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Shortened ITU Season Continues with Karlovy Vary World Cup this Sunday

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 10, 2020, 1:41 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The abbreviated 2020 International Triathlon Union (ITU) season continues this Sunday, as eight U.S. elite triathletes — including 2019 world champion Katie Zaferes — prepare to take on an iconic course at the Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup in the Czech Republic.

The vast majority of ITU races in 2020 have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with only one ITU World Cup in Mooloolaba, Australia, successfully taking place in early March before the pandemic upended the global sports landscape. Elite triathlon racing resumed last weekend in Hamburg, Germany, with the ITU Individual and Mixed Relay World Championships. The U.S. team took silver in the mixed relay, and three Americans earned top-eight finishes in the individual races.

The Karlovy Vary race is the first in a series of three ITU World Cups to wrap up the 2020 season. It will be followed by a sprint-distance event in Arzachena, Italy, on Oct. 10, and an Olympic-distance season closer in Miyazaki, Japan, from Oct. 24-25.

The World Championships in Hamburg took place under controlled conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and the Karlovy Vary race will follow similar protocols — including COVID-19 testing before and after international travel; daily self-screening and temperature checks before entering the race venue; face coverings at all times except when actively racing; contact reduction for athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers; and increased cleaning and disinfecting practices onsite.

The course in Karlovy Vary covers an Olympic-distance 1,500-meter swim in Rolava Lake; a technical 40.8-kilometer bike through the city featuring cobblestones, steep hills and tight turns; and a four-lap, 10-kilometer run. The men kick things off Sunday at 4 a.m. ET (10 a.m. local time), followed by the women at 9 a.m. ET (3 p.m. local time). Both races will be broadcast live online at, and will be available to U.S. audiences.

Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) is No.1 on the start list for the women, after a dominant 2019 season that included five ITU World Triathlon Series gold medals en route to her first career world title. Zaferes placed fifth at the individual World Championships in Hamburg last weekend before helping the U.S. to silver in the mixed relay.

Also racing for the U.S. women are Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) and Sophie Watts (née Chase, Burke, Va.). Both up-and-coming talents made their senior World Championship debuts in Hamburg Saturday, with Ackerlund taking 14th and Watts 26th. 

The U.S. women will face tough international competition, including the entire podium from last weekend’s World Championships: Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and Germany’s Laura Lindemann. To view the complete women’s start list, click here.

Leading the U.S. men in the No. 7 spot is Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), who earned three ITU World Cup victories last season and made history by earning the first WTS medal for a U.S. man since 2009 with a silver in Leeds, England. Just behind McElroy at No. 8 is Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), who was the top U.S. man in Hamburg last weekend — placing eighth in the individual World Championships before serving as the anchor leg for the U.S. mixed relay team.

Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) and Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) are each looking to return to the ITU World Cup podium after strong 2019 seasons, while Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) will be on the hunt for his first medal on the circuit.

The men will also contend with a strong international field — including Vincent Luis of France, the 2019 world champion who successfully defended his title in Hamburg last weekend, as well as Hamburg silver medalist Vasco Vilaca of Portugal. To view the complete men’s start list, click here.

For complete event information, schedule and course maps, visit

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 & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).


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Katie Zaferes

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