KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — Summer Cook earned her second consecutive World Cup medal with a third-place finish at the Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup on Sunday, while Chelsea Sodaro finished seventh for a career best World Cup performance.
The Olympic-distance race covered a two-lap, 1500-meter swim in the Rolava natural pool, followed by a seven-lap, 40-kilometer bike and a four-lap, 10-kilometer run in the hilly and cobbled streets of the resort town.
Cook (Thornton, Colo.) had the fastest swim split in the race, exiting the water in 18:36 with Australia’s Gillian Backhouse right on her heels. While Cook struggled to get out of her wetsuit in transition, Backhouse set out on a solo ride. Cook joined a large chase pack that included Czech Republic native Vendula Frintova, Australian powerhouse Emma Jackson, New Zealand’s Nicole Van Der Kaay and several others. Still, Backhouse was racing hard, building a gap of more than two and a half minutes by the end of the bike.
The Australian had enough in her legs to hold onto the lead while the battle for second and third played out behind her. Frintova finished the bike at the front of the chase pack, gaining a few seconds on Cook as she headed out onto the run. While both women chipped away at the competition with each passing lap, neither could catch Backhouse. She finished a minute clear of the rest of the field in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 29 seconds. Frintova crossed second in 2:04:31, and Cook was close behind in 2:04:56.
The bronze marks Cook’s second consecutive international podium, as she collected gold at the Yucatán World Cup three weeks ago.
“This is probably the hardest bike course I’ve ever raced on — but I really proved to myself that it doesn’t matter how I feel about the course, I just have to get out there and do it,” Cook said. “I feel like I really start to get on a roll at this time of the year, I do well with the last half of the season and I feel like I’m starting to build some momentum.”
Sodaro (Poway, Calif.) also had a strong performance, placing top-10 in just her second career World Cup. Sodaro exited the water two minutes back from the leaders, but made up ground throughout the race. Her 35:23 10k run was the fastest in the field, and was enough to secure a seventh-place finish in 2:06:05.
In the men’s race, Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.) was the top U.S. finisher in 17th, just over a minute out from a podium spot. Norway’s Gustav Iden came away with the win in 1:49:06, Alessandro Fabian of Italy took second in 1:49:39, and Tayler Reid of New Zealand completed the podium in 1:50:22.
Lagerstrom was 10th out of the water in 17:08, about 20 seconds behind the leaders. As the top five (Reid, Fabian, Slovakia’s Richard Varga, Japan’s Jumpei Furuya and the ITU’s Jonas Schomburg) set out on the bike together, Lagerstrom joined a chase pack of 25.
A small group including eventual winner Iden broke off from the chase pack with two laps remaining on the bike, but Lagerstrom was unable catch on. The group of four narrowed its gap on the leaders to less than 30 seconds heading onto the run — and Iden wasted no time, ultimately running his way to the top of the podium with a 31:48 10k.
Lagerstrom ran a strong 33:09 from the chase pack, finishing 17th in 1:51:39. Also representing the U.S. was Alec Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif.), who placed 40th with a time of 1:55:39.
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Gillian Backhouse (AUS), 2:03:29
2. Vendula Frintova (CZE), 2:04:31
3. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 2:04:56
3. Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.), 2:04:56
7. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 2:06:05
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Gustav Iden (NOR), 1:49:06
2. Alessandro Fabian (ITA), 1:49:39
3. Tayler Reid (NZL), 1:50:22
17. Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.), 1:51:39
40. Alec Wilimovsky (Malibu, Calif.), 1:55:39
Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.)
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).