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U.S. Athletes Take on Challenging Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup

By USA Triathlon | Sept. 13, 2020, 12:16 p.m. (ET)

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — Eight U.S. triathletes competed Sunday at the Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup in the Czech Republic, taking on a hilly and technical course featuring steep grades, tight turns and cobbled streets. The top Americans were Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), who took 11th in the women’s race, and Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), who was 14th for the men.

The course covered an Olympic-distance 1,500-meter swim in Rolava Lake, followed by an eight-lap, 40.8-kilometer bike and four-lap, 10-kilometer run through the city streets.

The race went on with several COVID-19 health and safety precautions in place, 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. It marked the second ITU event to take place in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic. The first return to racing took place last weekend in Hamburg, Germany, at the ITU Individual and Mixed Relay World Championships.

Bermuda’s Flora Duffy took top honors in the women’s race, breaking the tape in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 17 seconds. Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, who was crowned 2020 world champion last weekend, earned the silver medal in 2:06:54, while the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma grabbed her first career ITU World Cup podium with bronze in 2:07:07.

Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth dominated the swim in 17:53, with Zaferes second out of the water 25 seconds behind her. The two broke away early on the bike, building a gap of more than 30 seconds by the halfway point. On lap five of eight, Zaferes was dropped by the Brit and joined the first chase pack. After a gutsy 10k run, she crossed the line 11th in 2:09:16. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) was the only other U.S. finisher in the women’s race, running from the second chase pack to finish 13th in 2:09:48. 

In the men’s race, two-time world champion Vincent Luis of France commanded the victory in 1:52:14. Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca repeated his finishing position from last weekend’s world championships in Hamburg, taking silver in 1:52:20. Belgium’s Jelle Geens rounded out the podium in 1:52:34.

McDowell, Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.) found themselves in the chase pack on the bike, as the leaders built a gap of over a minute through the 40.8k bike course. It was too much ground to make up on the run, but McDowell clocked a 32:52 10k en route to 14th place in 1:54:47. Rider took 33rd in 1:57:14, and McElroy was 37th in 1:58:10. 

The shortened ITU season heads next to Arzachena, Italy, on Oct. 10, for a sprint-distance ITU World Cup — the penultimate event on the circuit this year.

2020 Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup
1,500m swim, 40.8k bike, 10k run

Elite Women — Complete Results

1. Flora Duffy (BER), 2:05:17
2. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), 2:06:54
3. Maya Kingma (NED), 2:07:07

U.S. Finishers
11. Katie Zaferes (Sant Cruz, Calif.), 2:09:16
13. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 2:09:48
Sophie Watts (Burke, Va.), DNF

Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Vincent Luis (FRA), 1:52:14
2. Vasco Vilaca (POR), 1:52:20
3. Jelle Geens (BEL), 1:52:34

U.S. Finishers
14. Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.), 1:54:47
33. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 1:57:14
37. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 1:58:10
Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), DNF
Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), DNF

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).