HAMBURG — It was a near perfect execution for USA’s Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) on Saturday as she led through the swim, bike and most of the run to ultimately claim the bronze medal at the Hamburg Wasser 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Hamburg. The third-place finish landed Rappaport her second WTCS podium of the year after her silver medal in Yokohama in May. Her performance led a solid day for the U.S. women as three Americans finished in the top 10.
Germany’s own Laura Lindemann claimed the gold medal with a time of 58 minutes, 17 seconds, while New Zealand's Nicole Van Der Kaay took the silver in 58:21, edging out Rappaport in the final meters of the sprint-distance race.
“I really wanted to race offensively and be as aggressive as possible. I had some promising moments and then some moments where I needed to put on the gas a little bit, but overall I am very proud,” said Rappaport, who finished in 58:26.
Hamburg also saw success from the three remaining American women who competed in the day. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) placed seventh with a 58:41 finish and Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) placed 10th in 58:48, her first top-ten finish in a World Triathlon Championship Series race. Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfurt, Ill.), racing in her first WTCS race, placed 21st in 59:40.
From start to finish, all four U.S. women showed their strength in the field over the 750-meter swim, 21-kilometer bike and five-kilometer course.
Rappaport was first out of the swim, clocking a 9:12 split. Despite Great Britain’s Olivia Mathias taking an early lead off the pontoon, Rappaport passed her in the final hundred meters to guide the way into the first transition.
Kasper trailed just 7 seconds behind and exited fourth out of the water.
Out onto the bike, a pack of 18 formed, which included all four Americans. Pushing the pace harder on each of the six laps, with help off the front from Kasper and the American team, the lead pack secured a comfortable 44-second gap over the chase.
With only five kilometers ahead, the near-minute lead brought a fair advantage going into the run for Rappaport, who earned the fastest 5K split (16:28) of last year's Hamburg WTCS race. While she entered T2 as the final woman off the back in the main pack of 18, it was mere meters on the ground before Rappaport swiftly started picking off the field.
Rappaport caught the leading runners. Along with Lindemann and Van Der Kaay, the three broke off and secured the podium after the first lap.
Rappaport led the trio, holding the pace up until the final half kilometer. Lindemann and Van Der Kaay had the extra effort in the end however. Lindemann seized the tape on home soil, as Van Der Kaay finished 5 seconds after, followed by Rappaport.
“It was definitely bittersweet to get taken in the last 300-400 meters of the race, but I can’t complain about a podium,” Rappaport said. “My season has been a little up and down, with Bermuda a little in the balance now, this might be my last race, so it feels good to be closing out on a high note.”
In the men’s race, an exciting sprint on the blue carpet and a photo finish determined Tim Hellwig of Germany the overall winner ahead of Frenchman Paul Georgenthum. The home soil win was a first WTCS gold for the German, along with Georgenthum earning his first-career WTCS silver. The bronze then went to France's Leo Bergere who claimed his second consecutive WTCS bronze medal after Montreal and Edmonton in August.
For the men’s U.S. team, Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) had the top performance of the day. He put forth a strong swim to be fifth out of the water that landed him in the lead pack on the bike coming out of T1.
McQueen, along with seven other riders held out in front for the first half of the bike, before the large chase that included fellow American Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) caught and forced a massive 32-strong group to enter T2 together.
Once feet hit pavement for the run, the large field divided causing McQueen and Hindman to fall back off the lead. McQueen finished in 29th with a time of 54:16, while Hindman took 38th with a 55:02 overall time.
To end his debut WTCS competition, Darr Smith of the U.S. (Atlanta, Ga.) finished in 42nd with a time of 55:46.
Racing will continue tomorrow with Team USA leading the 16-nation roster in the Mixed Relay event. Start time is 8:40 a.m. ET/2:40 local time and will be streamed live on TriathlonLIVE.tv.
Hamburg Wasser 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Hamburg
750m swim, 21k bike, 5k run
Elite Women — Complete results
1. Laura Lindemann (GER) 58:17
2. Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) 58:21
3. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) 58:26
7. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) 58:41
10. Erika Auckerlund (Missoula, Mont.) 58:48
21. Kyleigh Spearing (Frankfort, Ill.) 59:40
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Tim Hellwig (GER) 53:08
2. Paul Georgenthum (FRA) 53:08
3. Leo Bergere (FRA) 53:09
29. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) 54:16
38. Austin Hindman (Wildwood, Mo.) 55:02
42. Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) 55:46