Ben Kanute, Renée Tomlin Earn Silver Medals at Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup

By USA Triathlon | May 12, 2019, 11:21 a.m. (ET)

CHENGDU, China — U.S. Olympian Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.) earned his first ITU Triathlon World Cup medal since 2014 on Sunday, claiming a silver in Chengdu, China. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.) earned a silver medal of her own in the women’s race, her fourth ITU World Cup podium appearance in the last eight months. 

The race featured a semifinal format, with sprint-distance qualifying heats (750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run) on Saturday and super-sprint A and B finals (500m swim, 10.2k bike, 2.5k run) on Sunday. The top half of the field in each of the three semifinal heats for men and two semifinal heats for women advanced to Sunday’s A finals.

Kanute had the fourth-fastest swim in the men’s A final in 6 minutes, 4 seconds, with U.S. teammate Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) just one second behind him in sixth. The two Americans joined a hard-charging lead pack on the bike, including Japan’s Takumi Hojo, Australia’s Matthew Hauser, Chile’s Felipe Barraza, Germany’s Valentin Wernz and Canada’s Alexis Lepage.

The lead group gained some athletes and lost others over the 10.2k course, but Kanute and Rider stayed well in the mix. A quick transition saw Kanute, Hauser, Lepage, Barraza and Hojo get the early advantage heading onto the run course. From there, Hauser ran away from the field to claim the decisive victory with a time of 27 minutes, 42 seconds. 

Behind the Australian, Kanute and Lepage were battling hard for the second and third podium spots. They were still neck-and-neck as they broke into a sprint down the finish chute. A photo finish saw Kanute earn the silver by a nose, and he and Lepage would share the same official finish time of 27:55.

The podium is the first for Kanute in an ITU World Cup since his silver-medal performance in Tongyeong, South Korea, in 2014. 

“I am elated and relieved,” Kanute, who was 10th in his semifinal heat on Saturday, said. “I didn’t have my strongest race yesterday, and I was lucky to get an automatic spot. I just wanted to come back today and give it my all.”

Rider had a strong performance too, earning a career-best ITU World Cup finish of fifth in 28:06. The 22-year-old had an impressive weekend as a whole, with a solid third-place showing in his semifinal heat on Saturday.

Also racing for the U.S. in the men’s A final were Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), who took 13th in 28:23, and Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 23rd in 28:46.

In the women’s A final, Tomlin exited the water 16 seconds behind the leaders, but was able to put together a quick transition and early surge on the bike to join the lead pack. She was among a strong group of riders throughout the 10.2k course, including Germany’s Laura Lindemann, Australia’s Danielle De Francesco, Sophie Malowiecki and Romy Wolstencroft, Belgium’s Valerie Barthelemy, New Zealand’s Sophie Corbridge and Hungary’s Zsófia Kovács.

The medals would be decided on a fast and furious 2.5k run. Lindemann ultimately pulled into the lead, crossing the line in 31:18 for the win. Similar to the men’s race, Tomlin and Barthelemy were in a tight battle for silver and bronze. Tomlin got a step ahead in the finish chute, claiming the silver in 31:34 while the Belgian took bronze in 31:35.

Tomlin’s silver marks the continuation of a successful comeback from an injury sustained in early 2018. After months of rehabilitation, she returned to the ITU World Cup circuit last fall to earn two consecutive medals, including a gold in Sarasota, Florida. Her momentum continued into 2019, as she took silver at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup in Australia in March.

The course in Chengdu was also a familiar one for Tomlin, as she took the win here in 2015.

“I am really happy to come back to Chengdu and to grab the second spot,” Tomlin said. “It’s exciting to put the pieces together.”

The ITU circuit continues in earnest next Saturday, as 12 U.S. athletes — including Tomlin — will compete in the third stop of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama, Japan. Also on Saturday, seven Americans will chase podium spots at the Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup in Italy.

2019 Chengdu ITU Triathlon World Cup (A Final)
500m swim, 10.2k bike, 2.5k run

Elite Men — Complete Results

1. Matthew Hauser (AUS), 27:42
2. Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.), 27:55
3. Alexis Lepage (CAN), 27:55

U.S. Finishers
2. Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.), 27:55
5. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 28:06
13. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 28:23
23. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 28:46

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Laura Lindemann (GER), 31:18
2. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 31:34
3. Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), 31:35

U.S. Finishers

2. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 31:34

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).