MADRID — Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned his first top-five ITU Triathlon World Cup finish since 2017 on Sunday, placing fourth in Madrid. He was just two seconds off the podium in a close race that saw the top four finish within eight seconds of each other.
The sprint-distance race marked the fourth stop of the 2019 ITU World Cup circuit. The challenging course featured a 750-meter swim in the iconic Casa de Campo, followed by a hilly 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run on the city streets.
Hungary’s Mark Dévay was first out of the water, followed closely by Germany’s Jonas Schomburg and the United States’ Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.). That trio had about a 10-second gap on the rest of the field, giving them the opportunity to form an early breakaway on the bike.
It didn’t take long for the chasers — including McDowell — to catch on though, and soon a large group was riding together over the steep climbs and descents. The medals would be decided on the run — and by the halfway point of the 5k course, there were still 12 men in the mix for three spots on the podium.
In the final meters, it was Germans Justus Nieschlag and Lasse Lührs who were battling for gold and silver. After a sprint down the finish chute, the teammates were neck-in-neck as they broke the tape. They both recorded official times of 55 minutes, 51 seconds, but Nieschlag ended up with the narrow advantage in a photo finish.
Just six seconds behind them, another battle was brewing for bronze. Spain’s Robert Sanchez Mantecon ultimately crossed the line in 55:57 to claim the last spot on the podium, with McDowell just steps behind him in 55:59.
The fourth-place finish is McDowell’s best performance in an ITU World Cup since the fall of 2017, when he earned three consecutive top-five finishes — fifth in Yucatán, Mexico; silver in Huelva, Spain; and bronze in Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida.
Rider also raced well, placing 11th in 56:20 to match the third-best ITU World Cup finish of his career.
There were no U.S. competitors in the elite women’s race, which was won by France’s Emilie Morier.
The ITU Triathlon World Cup season continues next weekend in Chengdu, China, with a race format featuring a sprint-distance semifinal elimination round on Saturday followed by a super-sprint-distance final on Sunday.
2019 Madrid ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Justus Nieschlag (GER), 55:51
2. Lasse Lührs (GER), 55:51
3. Roberto Sanchez Mantecon (ESP), 55:57
4. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 55:59
11. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 56:20
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).