McDowell Takes Silver, Burns Bronze at Huelva ITU Triathlon World Cup

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 24, 2017, 6:11 p.m. (ET)

HUELVA, Spain — Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) earned his first World Cup podium since 2015, while Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) collected her second of the season on Sunday at the Huelva ITU Triathlon World Cup. Huelva, a first-time host on the ITU World Cup circuit, offered an Olympic-distance 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run on a sunny course at Punta Umbria beach and surrounding city streets.

In the men’s race, Jorgen Gundersen of Norway, Justus Nieschlag of Germany and Alberto Gonzalez Garcia of Spain were the leaders out of the water, with McDowell about 17 seconds back. Still, McDowell was able to use a quick transition and strong early riding to join the lead pack. He rode the entire 40k bike with the pack of 11, which also contained William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) and skilled cyclists like Canada’s Matthew Sharpe and Great Britain’s Gordon Benson. 

By the time they hit the second transition, the lead group had about 47 seconds on the chasers — but the podium positions would come down to the run. It was Nieschlag’s day, as he posted a blistering 31:54 10k to secure his first career World Cup win in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 46 seconds. 

McDowell trailed Nieschlag and Benson for the first lap of the course, but overtook the Brit before the halfway mark and ran his way to a second-place finish in 1:46:20. Benson fell back to fourth place, and Spain’s Uxio Abuin Ares collected bronze on home soil in 1:46:47.

The silver marked the third World Cup medal of McDowell’s career, but his first since 2015. The Illinois native earned a bronze medal in Chengdu, China, in 2015, and a silver in the same race in 2014.

Also competing for the U.S. men on Sunday were Huffman, who ultimately placed 23rd in 1:48:52, and Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), who took 39th with a time of 1:51:59.

In the women’s race, Japan’s Yuko Takahashi grabbed the early lead with an 18:53 swim, the only woman to break 19 minutes on the course. Burns was sixth out of the water, a strong enough swim to join the lead group of 10 women on the bike. That pack also included Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), Lindsey Jerdonek (Brecksville, Ohio), Canada’s Joanna Brown and the Czech Republic’s Vendula Frintova. The leaders stayed in front of the chase pack as they moved into the city, but Frintova started to establish a small gap on the technical turns and cobbled streets.

At the second transition, Frintova moved quickly and took off in the lead with Takahashi, Brown and Burns close behind. Brown established herself in second place by the halfway point, and would never let go of the silver-medal position. Meanwhile, Burns was running strong for a podium spot, and she made her move to overtake Takahashi on the final 2.5k lap. 

Frintova posted a commanding 35:09 run split en route to the gold, breaking the tape with a time of 2:01:14. Joanna Brown was 36 seconds back, crossing the line second in 2:01:50, and Burns came through for the bronze in 2:02:03.

Burns’ performance on Sunday marked the second World Cup podium of her season and of her career, as she snagged her first-ever World Cup medal with a bronze in Madrid in May.

The American women had a strong day overall, as Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.) placed fifth in 2:02:58, Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.) was seventh in 2:03:10, and Jerdonek was eighth in 2:03:21. Sodaro also had the fastest run split in the race, outpacing Frintova by one second.

The World Cup circuit travels to Weihai, China, next weekend, though no U.S. athletes are on the start list. The Americans will toe the line next at the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU Triathlon World Cup in Sarasota, Florida, on Oct. 13-14, which also serves as the USA Triathlon Elite National Championships.

Huelva ITU Triathlon World Cup
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Justus Nieschlag (GER), 1:45:46
2. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 1:46:20
3. Uxio Abuin Ares (ESP), 1:46:47 

U.S. Finishers
2. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), 1:46:20
23. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 1:48:52
39. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:51:59

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Vendula Frintova (CZE), 2:01:14
2. Joanna Brown (CAN), 2:01:50
3. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 2:02:03

U.S. Finishers
3. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 2:02:03
5. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.)
7. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 2:03:10
8. Lindsey Jerdonek (Brecksville, Ohio), 2:03:21

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).