CAGLIARI, Italy — Kevin McDowell raced his way to his first ITU World Cup podium finish of 2019 on Saturday, earning a bronze medal at the fourth annual Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup.
McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) clocked in at 52 minutes, 14 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 19-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course, firmly landing on the podium after a strong race with eventual race winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain. Brownlee was making his return to the ITU circuit for the 2019 season, winning in the final meters of the race in 52:02. Justus Nieschlag of Germany picked up the silver medal in 52:03.
From the start of the race, McDowell found himself in prime position for a podium spot, coming out of the water at the front of the pack, just a few seconds behind swim leader Brownlee. He rode in the lead bike pack of a dozen men, which kept just out of touch of the chasers across the 19k course with a gap of 41 seconds by the transition zone.
Once out on the 5k run, the leaders strung out quickly, but McDowell hung close to Brownlee and Nieschlag, making a break from them to lead the field with less than 2 minutes to go in the race. The gutsy surge on the run for McDowell led to him losing touch at the tail-end of the run to finish 12 seconds back from Brownlee.
“I got a little excited too early,” McDowell said in a post-race interview. “I could tell the guys were hurting, and I was like, you know what, let’s go. You don’t get an opportunity much to make an attack on Alistair. I just tried to make a move, and I saw it up there. I knew I could at least take a little risk and try going for the win, but still afford to get third. I’m so excited to walk away with a podium.”
McDowell was hungry for a podium finish after finishing fourth two weekends ago at an ITU World Cup in Madrid. He was last on a World Cup podium in October 2017 on home soil, at an event held in Sarasota, Florida.
Also racing for the U.S. men on Saturday, Jason West (Boulder, Colo.) finished 13th in 53:06, while Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) was 42nd and Thomas Roos (Culver City, Calif.) was 57th.
In the women’s race, Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) was the lone American competitor, finishing 14th in 59:16. Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell took the top step on the podium in 57:57, followed by Germany’s Nina Eim in 58:08 and Belgium’s Valerie Barthelemy in 58:09.
The 2019 ITU Triathlon World Cup season continues next month in Huatulco, Mexico.
2019 Cagliari ITU Triathlon World Cup
750m swim, 19k bike, 5k run
Elite Men – Complete Results
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR), 52:02
2. Justus Nieschlag (GER), 52:03
3. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz), 52:14
3. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 52:14
13. Jason West (Boulder, Colo.), 53:06
42. Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), 54:29
57. Thomas Roos (Culver City, Calif.), 1:00:17
DNF Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.)
Elite Women – Complete Results
1. Sophie Coldwell (GBR), 57:57
2. Nina Eim (GER), 58:08
3. Valerie Barthelemy (BEL), 58:09
14. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 59:16