TRIATHLON: Zaferes leads historic U.S. World Series sweep, this time in Yokohama!

Three World Series wins in a row for Katie Zaferes (USA) in Yokohama (Photo: ITU)

“Every time I think this has got to end sometime, but I go for it each time. I am using a more risky mindset where I am just trying different things and I think it makes it more fun and it’s going well.”

No kidding. That’s American Katie Zaferes, who continued an undefeated 2019 season in the ITU World Series with her third straight victory, this time by 21 seconds leading a rare podium sweep for the U.S.

Zaferes and fellow American Summer Rappaport separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the run phase and the former Syracuse track star ran away in the final 500 m from Rappaport, who claimed her second-ever World Series medal.

Rappaport said afterwards, “I had a really difficult 2018 and then my first WTS in Abu Dhabi didn’t go as I hoped. I have been working hard, I took a lot of gains but just wasn’t able to transfer it into my racing. Today I was able to work with myself and make everything work.

“I feel like I have been doing my best training for a while but I just couldn’t put it together and it was so difficult and discouraging. Today I felt like my work just finally came through. You have no idea how much I have prepared and trained for improving my bike skills. Today I was able to figure it out and perform the way I am able to train.”

Behind the two leaders, training partners Taylor Spivey of the U.S. and Yuko Takahashi (JPN) were also running together, but Spivey was able to claim third on the final run-in.

The medals sweep was the first in the World Series since the penultimate race of the 2016 Series, a sprint in Edmonton, where Summer Cook, Sarah True and Zaferes took the three places. It’s the fourth time the U.S. has managed the feat, also doing it twice in 2015, with Gwen Jorgensen winning in London (GBR) ahead of Zaferes and True, and in Gold Coast (AUS), with Jorgensen leading in True and Zaferes.

It’s also the first time one athlete has won three World Series races in a row in a couple of seasons; Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won four in a row during the 2017 campaign.

Vincent Luis won France’s second straight World Series race in the men’s division, and his first win since the final race at Gold Coast in 2018. He broke away on the run from a leading group of 10 from the bike phase.

He was immediately chased by South Africa’s Henri Schoeman, Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya and Bence Bicsak (HUN) and the four opened a serious gap with 7 km remaining. Luis maintained the lead to the finish, winning by three seconds, with Bicsak passing Gomez Noya late for the bronze medal.

Luis has been consistently near the front this season, finishing 5-4-1 in the three races so far, and is now the series leader with 2,523 points over Alarza (2,069). Zaferes has a perfect score of 3,000, well ahead of Jessica Learmonth (GBR) and Spivey, both of whom have 2,458 points. Summaries:

ITU World Series
Yokohama (JPN) ~ 18 May 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Vincent Luis (FRA), 1:43:21; 2. Henri Schoeman (RSA), 1:43:24; 3. Bence Bicsak (HUN), 1:43:26; 4. Javier Gomez Noya (ESP), 1:43:38; 5. Alex Yee (GBR), 1:43:57; 6. Fernando Alarza (ESP), 1:44:06; 7. Luke Willian (AUS), 1:44:07; 8. Marten Van Riel (BEL), 1:44:09; 9. Ryan Sissons (NZL), 1:44:13; 10. Sam Ward (NZL), 1:44:19. Also in the top 25: 15. Morgan Pearson (USA), 1:44:49.

Women: 1. Katie Zaferes (USA), 1:52:12; 2. Summer Rappaport (USA), 1:52:33; 3. Taylor Spivey (USA), 1:53:29; 4. Yuko Takahashi (JPN), 1:53:38; 5. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), 1:54:25; 6. Jessica Learmonth (GBR), 1:54:52; 7. Maya Kingma (NED), 1:54:59; 8. Non Stanford (GBR), 1:55:10; 9. Tamara Gorman (USA), 1:55:35; 10. Laura Lindemann (GER), 1:55:43. Also in the top 25: 13. Chelsea Burns (USA), 1:56:18.