NINE U.S. ELITE ATHLETES SET TO COMPETE AT ITU WORLD TRIATHLON BERMUDA ON SATURDAY

From USA Triathlon

Kasper earned her first career WTS medal in 2017. Scottie T/ITU Media

Kasper leads American contingent at No. 2 on women’s start list

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Nine U.S. elite athletes are set to compete on Saturday at ITU World Triathlon Bermuda, a first-time ITU World Triathlon Series destination.

The Olympic-distance race covers a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run. The action begins with a two-lap swim in the calm waters of Hamilton’s harbor. From there, athletes will complete 10 laps of a 4k bike course along the coastline, climbing and descending the infamous “Corkscrew Hill” with each lap. The four-lap run then takes competitors through the spectator-lined streets of downtown Hamilton and into the National Stadium for the finish.

The elite men race first at 12:06 p.m. ET (1:06 p.m. local time), and the elite women follow at 3:06 p.m. ET (4:06 p.m. local time). Both races will be broadcast live online at triathlonlive.tv. Both races will also air on NBC’s Olympic Channel, with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET.

Six U.S. women will toe the line, led by Kristen Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) at No. 2 on the start list. Kasper has had a strong start to the 2018 season, collecting one gold and one silver in ITU World Cup events in addition to a fourth-place finish at the rainy and technical WTS season opener in Abu Dhabi. Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) will be on the hunt for medals after crashing out of the Abi Dhabi race in March. Zaferes finished the 2017 WTS season ranked third overall, and has 11 career podiums in the series to date.

Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) and Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) will also be in the mix. Knibb and Spivey each cracked the WTS podium for the first time last year, earning silver medals in Leeds and Edmonton respectively. Cook was the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Edmonton champion and finished last season ranked ninth in the overall WTS standings. Burns has two ITU World Cup podiums to her name, but is still chasing her first WTS hardware.

The women will face a strong international field, headlined by Bermuda’s own two-time ITU world champion Flora Duffy. Duffy won six of the seven WTS races she started last year, and will be hard to beat as she races on the streets of her hometown. Also on the start list is Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands, who is the current WTS leader after taking the win in Abu Dhabi. Other top contenders on the women’s side include 2017 U23 World Championships silver medalist Melanie Santos of Portugal and Canada’s Joanna Brown, who finished the 2017 WTS season ranked seventh overall.

Visit wts.triathlon.org for a complete women’s start list.

Representing the U.S. in the men’s race are Ben Kanute (Phoenix, Ariz.), Kevin McDowell (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo). All three athletes had outstanding 2017 seasons, and all three earned USA Triathlon Athlete of the Year recognition (Kanute in the non-drafting category, McDowell in the draft-legal/ITU category and Hemming in the U23 category).

Kanute is coming off a strong 2017, highlighted by a second-place finish at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and a win at the Island House Triathlon. He opened the 2018 season with a top-20 finish at the WTS season opener in Abu Dhabi, and followed that with a silver-medal performance at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI North American Championships.

McDowell earned two ITU World Cup medals in 2017, and has shown he is still in good form this year by placing top-10 at two ITU World Cup events in March. Hemming has also raced well to open the season. The 2017 U23 national champion topped the podium at the Clermont CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup in March, and a week later edged Kanute for the win at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI North American Championships.

Henri Schoeman of South Africa holds the No. 1 spot on the men’s start list. Schoeman has been unstoppable in 2018, taking the win in Abu Dhabi and earning the Commonwealth Games title a month later. Defending world champion Mario Mola of Spain is in the No. 2 position after placing second to Schoeman in Abu Dhabi. Other top contenders on the men’s start list include 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final winner Vincent Luis and 2017 U23 World Championships silver medalist Dorian Coninx, both of France.

Visit wts.triathlon.org for a complete men’s start list.

ITU World Triathlon Bermuda is the second of nine stops on the circuit this year, including September’s ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia.

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