HAMBURG, Germany — The U.S. team of Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.), Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) and Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) raced to a bronze medal at the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships on Sunday in Hamburg, Germany.
With that performance, the U.S. reached the podium for the third consecutive time at the ITU Mixed Relay World Championships. The team of Kasper, Kanute, Zaferes and Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) claimed silver last year, and Kasper, Kanute, Gwen Jorgensen and Joe Maloy earned the world title in 2016.
Sunday’s race showcased the fast-paced, spectator-friendly mixed relay race format that will appear as a medal event for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Twenty countries fielded teams, each comprised of two men and two women. In the mixed relay race format, each athlete completed a 300-meter swim, 7-kilometer bike and 1.6-kilometer run before tagging off to the next teammate, with the fastest combined time winning the race.
France took home the title, as Leonie Periault, Dorian Coninx, Cassandre Beaugrand and Vincent Luis raced to a combined time of 1:20:06. The Australian foursome of Natalie Van Coevorden, Aaron Royle, Ashleigh Gentle and Jacob Birtwhistle snagged the silver in 1:20:49, while McDowell anchored the U.S. to third with a team time of 1:20:51. France had a standout showing this weekend in Hamburg, as Beaugrand also earned her first individual ITU World Triathlon Series win yesterday in the women’s race and Luis captured silver in the men’s race.
Kasper kicked off the action for the U.S. in the first leg, exiting the water in third behind the Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer and Great Britain’s Vicky Holland. Kasper stayed in the mix on the bike and run, but it was Germany’s Laura Lindemann who moved into the lead for the first handoff. Periault was just seconds behind, having run her way into the silver-medal position.
Lindemann’s lead gave Jonas Schomburg the advantage heading into the swim, but Kanute, Coninx and Great Britain’s Jonny Brownlee were right on his heels. Coninx seized the opportunity to put France in the lead — and when he handed off to Beaugrand, he had carved out a seven-second lead on Great Britain and a 26-second advantage over the U.S.
Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, Zaferes and Japan’s Yuko Takahaski worked together on the bike to catch Beaugrand, reeling her in by the second transition. The run was a battle between Zaferes and Beaugrand, with France having a slight advantage at the final handoff. Australia’s Gentle also ran well, holding onto fifth place to keep the defending world champions within sight of the podium.
“It was super tough. Everyone had super competitive teams, and no one knew what was going to happen until the very end,” Zaferes said.
Luis took off as the anchor for the French team, followed closely by McDowell for the U.S., Great Britain’s Tom Bishop, Japan’s Makato Odakura and Australia’s Birtwhistle. The Australian gained some ground on the bike, hammering past Odakura and Bishop.
On the final run leg, Luis was in the lead with 30 seconds on McDowell, and Birtwhistle was another 30 seconds behind. The Australian was determined, though, outsprinting McDowell down the finish chute to claim silver by just two seconds. France successfully earned its second mixed relay world title, the first coming in 2015. The U.S., meanwhile, celebrated a third straight podium finish.
“I really like this event, and racing for a team,” Kanute said. “Here, everybody races at another level of competition. We had teams up front that nobody expected, and that’s great — it makes it a really exciting race.”
The three-stop ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Series concludes with a race in Edmonton, Canada, on July 28. The U.S. won the first stop of the Series in Nottingham, England, in June.
For more information about Triathlon Mixed Relay’s addition to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, click here.
ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships
4x300m swim, 7k bike, 1.6k run | Complete Results
1. France, 1:20:06
2. Australia, 1:20:49
3. United States (Kirsten Kasper, Ben Kanute, Katie Zaferes, Kevin McDowell), 1:20:51
4. Great Britain, 1:21:09
5. The Netherlands, 1:21:09
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 events and connects with more than 400,000 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).