MONTREAL, Québec — Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) continued to solidify her overall ITU World Triathlon Series lead Saturday in Montreal, winning gold in a thrilling sprint finish with Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown. Zaferes has now won four of the five WTS races to date this season, taking silver once.
With the victory, Zaferes now has 4,925 points on the season — 755 more than world No. 2 Jessica Learmonth of Great Britain (4,170). Taylor-Brown is in third with 3,925 points, and American Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who did not race Saturday, holds the No. 4 spot with 3,249.
Saturday’s course featured a 750-meter swim in the Alexandra Basin, a technical 20-kilometer bike through Old Montreal and downtown streets, and a 5-kilometer run finishing at the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay.
Zaferes swam well, exiting the water with the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma, Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes and Learmonth. That foursome worked together the bike, building an early gap on the field. But Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), Taylor-Brown and Italy’s Alice Betto were less than 10 seconds behind, and they bridged up about halfway through the bike to form into a hard-charging group of seven.
The chase pack was made up of several talented cyclists, including American Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), Canada’s Joanna Brown, the Netherlands’ Rachel Klamer, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, Belgium’s Claire Michel and others. Still, they were unable to make up ground on the leaders, who had a gap of more than a minute heading into the second transition.
On the run, Zaferes and Taylor-Brown immediately made their way to the front. The two ran shoulder-to-shoulder for most of the 5k course, each one waiting for the other to make a move. A similar battle was playing out behind them between Learmonth and Betto, while Knibb was running steady in fifth.
In the final 500 meters, Zaferes laid down the hammer. The American put in a monstrous effort down the finish chute, breaking the tape in 58 minutes, 15 seconds — nine seconds ahead of her British rival.
“I wish (the group of four) had stayed away on the bike, but I think it’s best for me having to run with Georgia (Taylor-Brown),” Zaferes said. “As soon as we were off the bike together, I kept telling myself, ‘Be ready, be ready.’ I went kind of early, and I wasn’t sure if it would be too early, so I just ran as fast as I could to the finish and was glad to get it.”
Learmonth completed the podium, outsprinting Betto in 58:46. The Italian came across the line 11 seconds later, and Knibb rounded out the top-five with a time of 59:24.
The fifth-place finish is Knibb’s third-best on the WTS circuit. It was an impressive showing for the 21-year-old, who returned to WTS competition Saturday for the first time since a fourth-place showing at the season opener in Abu Dhabi.
Burns, running from the chase group, finished 15th with a time of 1:00:39. Also racing for the U.S. women was Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), who took 28th on the day in 1:03:10.
In the men’s race, Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) earned a career-best WTS finish of 12th — a huge improvement from his previous career best of 23rd, earned last year in Montreal.
Rider was 23rd out of the water, 20 seconds behind the leaders. Meanwhile, Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Calif.) and William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) finished the swim in sixth and eighth place, respectively, less than 10 seconds back from leader Henri Schoeman of South Africa.
On the bike, a train of nearly 30 athletes worked together for most of the course. That pack included Rider, Kanute, Huffman and Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) — as well as big names like Schoeman, South Africa’s Richard Murray, and Spain’s Mario Mola, Fernando Alarza and Javier Gomez Noya.
The podium spots would come down to the run. It was a blistering pace from the start, as the top-nine athletes all recorded sub-15-minute 5ks. In the final meters, it was an all-out battle between Mola and Belgium’s Jelle Geens. With a sprint finish in the pouring rain, Geens got his first career WTS medal — a gold — in a total time of 53:49.
Mola crossed the line one second later for silver, and Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk took bronze on home soil in 53:53. Rider’s 15:18 run split was enough to get him across the line 12th, with a total time of 54:42.
Smoragiewicz was the next American to finish, taking 17th in 54:52. It was his second-best WTS career performance, just one spot removed from his 16th-place in Bermuda earlier this year.
Kanute ended up 23rd in 55:22, and Huffman was 27th in 55:46. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) also raced for the U.S. men, finishing 41st in 47:21.
Now leading the overall WTS men’s standings is Alarza with 3,282 points. France’s Vincent Luis, who did not race Saturday, is second with 3,200 points, and Gomez Noya is third with 3,108.
The ITU World Triathlon Series continues with a stop in Hamburg, Germany, next weekend. The individual WTS races, which feature a sprint-distance course, are set for Saturday, July 6. The ITU Mixed Relay World Championships follow on Sunday, July 7, as the U.S. looks to finish on the podium for the fourth consecutive year.
ITU World Triathlon Montreal
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 58:15
2. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), 58:26
3. Jessica Learmonth (GBR), 58:46
1. Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 58:15
5. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 59:24
15. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 1:00:39
28. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:03:10
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Jelle Geens (BEL), 53:49
2. Mario Mola (ESP), 53:50
3. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN), 53:53
12. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 54:42
17. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 54:52
23. Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.), 55:22
27. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 55:46
41. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 57:21
Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), DNF
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).