Olympian Sarah Haskins raced her way to her first title of 2014 and William Huffman finished third to lead the United States on Saturday at the Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup, the U.S. draft-legal season opener in Lake Louisa State Park.
Haskins (Clermont, Fla.) made her return to triathlon with a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes, 55 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course. It was her third podium finish in Clermont and her first victory on this course. Mexico’s Claudia Rivas was second in 1:03:22 and Canadian Joanna Brown was third with a time of 1:03:48.
Huffman (Colleyville, Texas) faced off against a field of fast runners to finish third in 56:57 for his third career Continental Cup podium finish. Irving Perez of Mexico posted the day’s top time with 56:22 and Canada’s Andrew Yorke was second in 56:27.
In the women’s race, Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.) pushed the pace with a strong swim, exiting the water nearly 30 seconds ahead of a small pack that included Haskins, Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.). McLarty and Haskins then formed a lead group of two on the bike, which increased to nearly two minutes over the course of the four-lap course. Haskins charged out of T2 and kept her distance ahead of the field, taking the tape with a comfortable 30 second gap over Rivas.
“It feels really good to be out on the race course. You never know how your body is going to respond after taking such a long time off,” Haskins said after the race, which was her first since the birth of her daughter. “It’s a great race and it’s close to home. I just really wanted to come out and do what I love to do, which is race hard.”
For the men, Hunter Lussi (Kensington, Md.) posted the fastest swim time, stringing out the field early in the race. Lussi was then joined by nine others including Huffman, Perez and Yorke to form the lead pack on the bike. Working together, the lead pack extended its lead to 1:10 by the second transition, ahead of stellar runners like Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) and Lukas Verzbicas (Chula Vista, Calif.).
Perez moved out front to capture the lead in the first lap, followed closely by Yorke, and Huffman held on to his third-place position throughout the run for his first podium finish of the year. VanOrt’s blazing run speed gave him the fastest run split of the day with a 15:28 5k, and Verzbicas had the fourth fastest run in 15:34 to grab his first top-10 finish since his bike accident in 2012.
“I was pleased to have a good, solid all-around race start to finish to get the season going,” Huffman said. “It’s almost a sigh of relief. You never know exactly where you stand coming out of the winter training but I had some good workouts leading up to this and it was a good test for the bigger races coming up this season.”
The day’s race action kicked off with USA Triathlon Under-25 Elite Development Races, offering up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to gain key experience in the draft-legal format. USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program athletes Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) and Andrew Nielsen (Madison, Wis.) won the events, with Cook finishing in 1:06:10 and Niesen in 59:39. Top EDR finishers also earned professional cards.
The elites will compete again next Saturday and Sunday in Sarasota for the ITU PATCO Sprint and Mixed Relay Pan American Championships.
Women’s Top 10 – Complete Results
1. Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.), 1:02:55
2. Claudia Rivas (MEX), 1:03:22
3. Joanna Brown (CAN), 1:03:48
4. Amelie Kretz (CAN), 1:03:53
5. Anne Tabarant (FRA), 1:03:55
6. Rebeccah Wassner (New Paltz, N.Y.), 1:04:07
7. Chelsea Burns (Phoenix, Ariz.), 1:04:24
8. Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.), 1:04:38
9. Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.), 1:04:50
10. Michelle Mehnert (Boulder, Colo.), 1:04:58
Men’s Top 10 – Complete Results
1. Irving Perez (MEX), 56:22
2. Andrew Yorke (CAN), 56:27
3. William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), 56:57
4. Carlos Javier Quinchara Forero (COL), 57:11
5. Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.), 57:15
6. Crisanto Grajales (MEX), 57:22
7. Rostyslav Pevtsov (ITU), 57:22
8. Sergio Sarmiento (MEX), 57:27
9. Lukas Verzbicas (Chula Vista, Calif.), 57:29
10. Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.), 57:34