Resilient Canucks Grab Spots in Top-15 at Triathlon World Cup in Salinas

SALINAS, Ecuador—Desirae Ridenour and Alexis Lepage both secured spots the top-15 after a feisty effort at the triathlon World Cup in Salinas, Ecuador on Sunday.

The two members of Canada’s 2018 Commonwealth Games squad finished 14th and 15th respectively on a perfect day for triathlon racing.

The 18-year-old Ridenour stormed into the ocean with 64 of the top female triathletes for the 750-metre swim where she came out of the water in sixth spot. Charging across Chipipe Beach to the opening transition, the Cowichan Bay, B.C. resident sat in a long train of riders for the the four lap, 20-kilometre bike. The large group stayed together until second transition where it became a foot race for the medals.

With a group of women pushing the pace out front, Canada’s Ridenour was steady throughout the three laps of the five-kilometre run, clocking a 14th-place time of 59:11. Montreal’s Elisabeth Boutin also toed the line, and finished in the middle of the field in 29th spot (59:54).

Ukraine’s Yuliya Yelistratova captured the gold medal with a time of 58:19. Brazil’s Luisa Baptista finished three seconds back in second at 58:22. Chile’s Barbara Riveros locked up the bronze medal with a time of 58:37.

In the men’s race, it was Alexis Lepage leading the way for the Canucks for the second-straight week on the World Cup.

The 24-year-old came out of the water in fourth spot with a handful of athletes and went on to finish 15th at 52:55.

“I’m quite happy to have another top-15. It was a really hard year for me with lots of bad luck, but these results show I’m supposed to be out here, competing against the best triathletes in the world,” said Lepage, who was 13th last week at the World Cup in Sarasota.

“Today was not my best day, but I was resilient and it paid off in the end. I had a pretty strong swim, keeping a good tempo to save my energy for later.”

The Gatineau, Que. resident settled into a long train of 57 riders who snaked their way through the streets of Salinas for the 20-kilometre ride.

A gap opened in the pack following a crash in the second lap of the bike which included Victoria’s Matt Sharpe who was not able to finish the race. The chase group put the hammer down and the two groups came back together before entering second transition.

“The bike was quite easy. I stayed out of trouble and was behind the crash,” said Lepage. “I had to push some decent watts to bridge back to the front pack.”

Struggling with his shoes in transition, Lepage came out onto the run in 30th place. He pushed it hard for the first kilometre to catch a pack for the five-kilometre test.

“I didn’t have a super great run today, but a top-15 is a top-15 and I need to be happy with that,” added Lepage. “Next time I will take a bit more of a risk on the run, and be out front.”

A group of 10 men took the bell lap together after breaking away from the field, setting up a sprint finish.

When the dust settled at the finish chute, it was Spain’s David Castro Fajardo coming out on a top with a time of 52:21. Brazil’s Manoel Messias settled for the silver medal at 52:23, while Portugal’s Joao Pereira won the photo finish for the bronze medal with a time of 52:24.

Taylor Forbes, of Hamilton, finished in 26th spot with a time of 53:13. John Rasmussen, of Guelph, Ont., placed 51st (55:52).

Complete Women’s Results:

Complete Men’s Results:

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