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Chelsea Sodaro Claims First Career ITU World Cup Victory in Huatulco

By USA Triathlon | June 10, 2018, 5:51 p.m. (ET)

HUATULCO, Mexico — Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.) collected her first ITU World Cup win in Huatulco, Mexico, on Sunday, battling hot conditions to come out on top against a strong international field. On the men’s side, William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), led the U.S. effort in eighth place.

The seventh stop of the ITU World Cup circuit featured a sprint-distance course, as athletes covered a 750-meter ocean swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. 

In the women’s race, Portugal’s Helen Carvelho led out of the water but was followed closely by the rest of the field. A large lead pack of about 20 formed on the bike, and Sodaro was still in the mix alongside pre-race favorites Vendula Frintova of Czechoslovakia and Lisa Perterer of Austria. 

Heading onto the run, it was clear that the athletes who could best handle the heat would come out on top. Sodaro is well-suited to perform in hot conditions, having taken silver in last October’s Sarasota-Bradenton ITU World Cup that was held in a duathlon (run-bike-run) format in mid-80-degrees. She proved that strength here again in Huatulco, running a race-leading 17-minute, 8-second 5k to pull away from the rest of the field. 

She broke the tape with a total time of 1:01:14, followed in second by New Zealand’s Deborah Lynch in 1:01:39. Brazil’s Beatriz Neres rounded out the podium in 1:01:41.

“I’ve had a really rough start to the year. Training had been going really well and my team and I had been working very hard, but I just wasn’t able to put it together, and I feel like this win is a long time coming,” Sodaro said. "My coach, Paulo Sousa, has stuck through a lot with me, and I’m so thankful for his support and belief in me. My family was onboard when I decided that I wanted to make a career change and start triathlon at the age of 28, so I have some incredible people in my corner, and this one is for them today. I hope it’s just the start.”

Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) also had a strong race, finishing just four seconds off the podium in fifth place. Her previous career-best ITU World Cup finish had been 10th in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May. First-year elite Sophie Chase (Carlsbad, Calif.) broke the top-10 in a World Cup for the first time, taking ninth in 1:02:27.

Also racing for the U.S. were Sarah Alexander (Shaker Heights, Ohio), who took 21st in 1:03:36; Nicole Welling (Phoenix, Ariz.), 24th in 1:04:14; and Rachel Pearson (Forest Park, Ill.), 36th in 1:09:09.

In the men’s race, hometown favorite Rodrigo Gonzalez of Mexico grabbed his third career ITU World Cup victory. Two Brazilians had career-best performances, as Manoel Massias claimed silver and Diogo Sclebin earned his debut World Cup medal with bronze. 

The entire men’s field stayed together for the short 750m swim. Two groups initially formed on the bike, each tallying about 20 — but the flat course allowed the chase pack to catch back up, so a huge pack headed into the second transition together. 

Gonzalez, who showed his strength in the heat last year by winning the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU World Cup, pulled ahead early on the run. He went on to break the tape with a total time of 55:32. It was a tight battle for silver and bronze, with William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) in the mix alongside eight other men — but Massias and Sclebin had the finishing power to take second and third, crossing the line in 55:45 and 55:51, respectively. 

Huffman ended up in eighth, just one spot shy of his World Cup career best, with a time of 56:01. Also representing the U.S. were Michael Arishita (Boerne, Texas), 28th in 56:51; Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 33rd in 57:02; Jack Felix (Hilton Head, S.C.), 47th in 58:19; and Robby Webster (Tacoma, Wash.), 60th in 1:02:41.

The ITU Triathlon World Cup season continues with a stop in Antwerp, Belgium, on June 17.

2018 Huatulco ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run

Elite Women — Complete Results

1. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 1:01:14
2. Deborah Lynch (NZL), 1:01:39
3. Beatriz Neres (BRA), 1:01:41

U.S. Finishers

1. Chelsea Sodaro (Poway, Calif.), 1:01:14
5. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 1:01:45
9. Sophie Chase (Carlsbad, Calif.), 1:02:27
21. Sarah Alexander (Shaker Heights, Ohio), 1:03:36
24. Nicole Welling (Phoenix, Ariz.), 1:04:14
36. Rachel Pearson (Forest Park, Ill.), 1:09:09

Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Rodrigo Gonzalez (MEX), 55:32
2. Manoel Messias (BRA), 55:45
3. Diogo Sclebin (BRA), 55:51

U.S. Finishers
8. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 56:01
28. Michael Arishita (Boerne, Texas), 56:51
33. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 57:02
47. Jack Felix (Hilton Head, S.C.), 58:19
60. Robby Webster (Tacoma, Wash.), 1:02:41

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).