SALINAS, Ecuador — Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) placed fifth Sunday at the Salinas ITU Triathlon World Cup in Ecuador, marking his second straight top-five finish on the ITU World Cup circuit after taking fourth in Sarasota, Florida, last weekend. Pearson was just a second off the podium in a thrilling race that saw a seven-man sprint finish.
The course in Salinas featured a 750-meter ocean swim off the Playa de Chipipe, followed by a 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run on the Malecón along the coastline.
New Zealand’s Tayler Reid was the first out of the water in the men’s race, but there was very little separation as almost the entire field formed into a peloton on the bike. A crash on the second lap caused the pack to spread out slightly, but it was still a busy transition as the medals would be decided on the run.
At the bell lap, Pearson and six other men started to pull away from the group. The leaders ran together over the final 1.6k, all preparing for a sprint down the finish chute. Spain’s David Castro Fajardo accelerated to the victory with a time of 52 minutes, 21 seconds. Just a step behind him were Brazil’s Manoel Messias (52:23) for the silver and Portugal’s Joao Pereira (52:24) for the bronze.
Azerbaijan’s Rostislav Pevtsov recorded the same official time as Pereira, taking fourth in a photo finish, and Pearson crossed the line one second later to take fifth in 52:25.
It has been a standout rookie season to date for Pearson, a former NCAA Division I track and cross-country runner at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The 25-year-old was recruited to triathlon last year through USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, claiming the overall title at the 2017 USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships to earn his elite license. Pearson’s performance in Salinas marked his fourth ITU World Cup top-10 finish this year.
Additional U.S. finishers included Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 20th in 53:04; Robby Webster (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 29th in 53:19; William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 31st in 53:26; and Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 39th in 53:57.
In the women’s race, Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) led the U.S. with a 21st-place finish. Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratova claimed her first ITU World Cup victory since 2015, Brazil’s Luisa Baptista earned the silver medal and Barbara Riveros of Chile rounded out the podium with bronze.
Gorman led a long train of women out of the swim and into the first transition. The field then split into two large packs on the bike, and nearly 30 of the leading women came into the second transition together. It was anyone’s race as they headed into the 5k run.
After the first of three laps on the run, it was Riveros, Yelistratova, Baptista and Switzerland’s Jolanda Annen who began separating themselves from the field. Annen ultimately dropped off the pace, but the leading three continued to battle. The Ukrainian went on to break the tape in 58:19, outsprinting silver medalist Baptista by just three seconds. Riveros claimed the bronze in 58:37.
After riding with the lead pack, Gorman ran her way to a 21st-place finish in 59:33. Sarah Alexander (Shaker Heights, Ohio) and Brittany Warly (Colorado Springs, Colo.) also raced for the U.S., finishing 42nd (1:00:38) and 49th (1:02:05) respectively.
The ITU Triathlon World Cup circuit makes its penultimate stop of the season with a sprint-distance race in Tongyeong, South Korea, on Oct. 27.
Salinas ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. David Castro Fajardo (ESP), 52:21
2. Manoel Messias (BRA), 52:23
3. Joao Pereira (POR), 52:24
5. Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), 52:25
20. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 53:04
29. Robby Webster (Flagstaff, Ariz.), 53:19
31. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 53:26
39. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.), 53:57
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR), 58:19
2. Luisa Baptista (BRA), 58:22
3. Barbara Riveros (CHI), 58:37
21. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), 59:33
42. Sarah Alexander (Shaker Heights, Ohio), 1:00:38
49. Brittany Warly (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:02:05
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 at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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).