SARASOTA, FL—Three Canadian triathletes battled through the blistering heat to secure a place in the top-15 at a World Cup race in Sarasota, Florida on Saturday which was changed to a duathlon format.
Joanna Brown (Carp, Ont.) led the Canadian charge by finishing sixth in the women’s race with a time of 54:38. Alexis Lepage (Gatineau, Que.) was the top Canadian male in 13th at 49:03, while Matthew Sharpe (Victoria) was 14th with a time of 49:07.
“It was okay today but definitely not what I was aspiring for. I made the most of how I was feeling on the day,” said Brown. “It was an average performance, but I’m really looking forward to a solid off season and having a consistent build over the winter for 2019. It has been a rollercoaster season, but I have I learned a lot from it.”
Brown put in a hard-fought battle with the world’s elite until the final lap on the run. Starting the race with a 2.5-kilometre run, the field of 64 women were packed close together heading into first transition where they headed out on the 18.3 kilometre bike course. A monster on the bike, Brown was in her office out front of a sizeable group of nearly 30 women who formed in the first lap of the bike. The group remained together until second transition.
“The first run was very relaxed and I sat in behind the leaders to cruise into T1. There were few attacks on the bike, but with a large pack nobody was really motivated to work. I just tried to stay near the front and out of trouble as there were a lot of nervous riders,” added Brown.
Storming onto the final five-kilometre run course, Brown continued to fight in a group of 12 athletes into the bell lap. The pack finally stretched out metres before the blue finishing carpet where Brown held on for sixth spot.
“On the second run, I made my way up to the lead and settled in for the first lap and a half,” added Brown. “The pace was fairly pedestrian but there was a lot of tactical pushing and positioning that took me off guard. In the final sprint I was in good position rounding the corner and ended up back of the podium in sixth.”
The Americans celebrated the top-two spots on the women’s podium. Renee Tomlin captured the fourth World Cup victory of her career with a time of 54:34. Kirsten Kasper finished one second off the leading pace (54:35), claiming the silver medal in a photo finish over Vendula Frintova, of Czech Republic, who was third at 54:35.
Quebec’s Karol-Ann Roy was the only other Canadian woman on the start line. Roy placed 33rd with a time of 57:24.
Five of Canada’s best were on the start line for the men’s race.
Alexis Lepage and Matthew Sharpe scrapped their way through the intense heat to finish 13th and 14th respectively in the duathlon race format.
“It was a really warm day so I decided to save as much energy as I could to be able to finish strong,” said Lepage. “Running isn’t my strength so I didn’t want to try anything crazy. I just tried to stay calm and to focus on my technique for the first run.”
After a lightening quick 2.5-kilometre opening run leg, a long train of 66 athletes pedaled together down the streets of the Florida coast for the duration of the 18.3 kilometre bike leg. The Canucks were well positioned heading into a chaotic second transition. The field quickly pulled apart in the final five-kilometre run.
“With everyone together I knew the bike was going to be easy. The focus was to stay hydrated and keep my temperature down with some cold water,” added Lepage. “I was far back at the beginning of the final run, but quickly moved forward to stay close to the lead pack of runners. I went a bit too quick on the first three kilometres. I’m quite happy with this result especially in the heat today.”
Vincent Luis, of France, was the king of the heat on Saturday, pulling away from the men’s field to win with a seven-second gap and a total time of 48:18.
Jelle Geens, of Belarus, was second at 48:25. Joao Pereira, of Portugal, clocked in at 48:25 to take the bronze medal.
Tyler Mislawchuk (Oak Bluff, Man.) was 27th at 49:49. Hamilton’s Taylor Forbes placed 33rd (50:06). John Rasmussen (Ancaster, Ont.) finished 41st with a time of 50:58.
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