Katie Zaferes Leads U.S. Women’s Podium Sweep at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama

By USA Triathlon | May 18, 2019, 2:32 a.m. (ET)

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) and Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) swept the podium at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama on Saturday, marking the fourth U.S. podium sweep in ITU World Triathlon Series history and the first since 2016. Zaferes grabbed the gold medal, earning her third consecutive WTS victory to remain undefeated in the 2019 series. 

Rappaport’s silver is the second WTS medal of her career. Her first was gold, earned at WTS Edmonton in 2016 — and fittingly, that was also the last time the U.S. swept the podium. Rappaport was joined that day by Sarah True in the silver-medal position and Zaferes in the bronze-medal spot.

The course in Yokohama featured a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run. Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth had the fastest swim, with the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma just behind her. Spivey, Zaferes and Rappaport were the next three out of the water. 

After a quick transition, the three Americans joined a strong lead group on the bike. The seven-woman pack included Learmonth and Kingma as well as Norway’s Lotte Miller and Japan’s Yuko Takahashi. With each of nine laps on the bike, the leaders extended their gap — and by the time they finished the 40k course, they had more than a minute-and-a-half on the rest of the field.

Zaferes and Rappaport pulled into the lead early on the run, running step-for-step for the majority of the 10k course. Meanwhile, Spivey was in a race for bronze alongside Takahashi. 

In the final kilometer, Zaferes made her move, pulling ahead of her U.S. teammate into the finish chute. She broke the tape with a time of 1 hour, 52 minutes, 12 seconds, with Rappaport crossing the line for silver 21 seconds later. 

“It was definitely a different race than the last couple,” Zaferes said. “Summer pushed me on the run for the whole entire thing. I tried to be more tactical with the little pushes, and that last lap I just really knew to push the hill and continue pushing over it, because I didn’t know if she was coming up behind me.” 

Though Rappaport has been a regular on the ITU Triathlon World Cup podium in recent years, she had not cracked the top-five in a WTS event since July of 2017. 

“I had a really difficult 2018, and my first WTS in Abu Dhabi (this season) didn’t go as I had hoped. I’ve been working hard, and I’ve seen a lot of gains, but I just wasn’t able to transfer it into my racing,” Rappaport said. “Today I was able to work with myself and make everything click. I feel like I just saw my work finally come through.”

Spivey ultimately outran her Japanese training partner, locking in the U.S. sweep with a time of 1:53:29. Her bronze is a continuation of a strong 2019 season to date, as she won silver in the season opener in Abu Dhabi and was sixth in the series’ second stop in Bermuda. 

“I was pretty surprised that the chase group, considering how big it was, didn’t gain on us. Our bike pack worked so hard. I think I was just redlining the whole time, trying to make a pull and help the group,” Spivey said. “(The podium sweep) is pretty incredible. I saw the two girls battling out at the front, and I just did my best to get that third spot.”

Zaferes has been a part of all four U.S. podium sweeps in WTS history, including WTS Edmonton in 2016, WTS Gold Coast in 2015 (Gwen Jorgensen, gold; True, silver; Zaferes, bronze) and WTS London in 2015 (Jorgensen, gold; Zaferes, silver; True, bronze).

After a perfect season to date with wins in Abu Dhabi, Bermuda and Yokohama, Zaferes remains the WTS overall leader with 3,000 points. Spivey is tied with Learmonth for the No. 2 spot, with 2,458 points apiece.

“I go for it each time,” Zaferes said. “I’m using a riskier mindset (this season) and trying different things. I think it makes it more fun, and it’s going well.”

Also racing for the U.S. women on Saturday were Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), who placed a career-best ninth in 1:53:29; Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 13th in 1:56:18; Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 28th in 1:59:32; and Sophie Chase (Carlsbad, Calif.), 39th in 2:05:37.

In the men’s race, William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) had a top-five swim, exiting the water just four seconds back from swim leader Henri Schoeman of South Africa. 

Huffman then caught onto the lead pack on the bike, riding with big names like Schoeman, Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya, France’s Vincent Luis and Dorian Coninx, Australia’s Aaron Royle and Belgium’s Marten Van Riel. The American fell off the pace by about the 20k mark, but he joined a large chase pack of about 25 men that also included Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) and Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.). 

By the end of the 40k bike, the leaders had a one-minute gap on the rest of the field. The podium would ultimately come from that lead group, as Luis stormed to the win with a time of 1:43:21. Schoeman grabbed the silver medal in 1:43:24, and Hungary’s Bence Bicsák earned his first career WTS medal with a bronze in 1:43:26.

Pearson ran his way to a top-15 finish, leading all Americans with a time of 1:44:49. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) was the next U.S. athlete across the line, finishing 28th in 1:46:21. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) was 30th in 1:46:31, followed by Huffman in 35th (1:47:21) and Hemming in 39th (1:48:44). 

The ITU World Triathlon Series continues June 9 with a stop in Leeds, England.

2019 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run

Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 1:52:12
2. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), 1:52:33
3. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 1:53:29

U.S. Finishers
1. Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), 1:52:12
2. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), 1:52:33
3. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 1:53:29
9. Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:55:35
13. Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), 1:56:18
28. Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), 1:59:32
39. Sophie Chase (Carlsbad, Calif.), 2:05:37

Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Vincent Luis (FRA), 1:43:21
2. Henri Schoeman (RSA), 1:43:24
3. Bence Bicsák (HUN), 1:43:26

U.S. Finishers

15. Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), 1:44:49
28. Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.), 1:46:21
30. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 1:46:31
35. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 1:47:21
39. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 1:48:44

About USA Triathlon

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