Canada’s Aiden Longcroft-Harris and Sophia Howell Storm into Top-15, Enjoy Career-Best Days at Yeongdo World Triathlon Cup
YEONGDO, Kor.—Three of Canada’s developing triathletes battled the heat and an elite World Cup field to finish in the top-15 on Saturday in Yeongdo, South Korea.
Victoria’s Longcroft-Harris had the best World Cup result of his career where he battled to 10th spot, while Martin Sobey (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) was 13th in the men’s race. Sophia Howell (Airdrie, Alta.) finished 14th in just her second World Cup start.
Longcroft-Harris found his rhythm in the water where he led the 54-man field with Max Stapley (Great Britain) through the 750-metre swim. The 25-year-old was steady through the four laps over 20 kilometres while working in a motivated group of frontrunners on the bike, but he was not able to keep up with the electric pace when foot hit the pavement for the five-kilometre dash.
The Canuck bettered his previous best World Cup finish by three spots after clocking-in at 51:38 while completing the course strung out in the stunning Busan region.
“It honestly feels a bit surreal. I didn’t believe it when I was told that I was 10th,” said Longcroft-Harris, who credited his teammate Martin Sobey for giving him the confidence heading into the race that ehe could deliver a top result. “I’m obviously super happy. It was one of the hottest races of my life, but I raced aggressively and put myself in a position to win all day long. I’m so glad it paid off.”
Japan’s Takumi Hojo delivered a golde race while running away with his first World Cup victory in a time of 50:36. Great Britain’s Stapley stormed down the blue carpet, stopping the clock at 50:59 to earn his first World Cup medal, topping Germany’s Valenti Wernz for the silver. Wernz came away with the bronze medal after crossing the finish line in time of 51:08.
Canadian Maritimer, Martin Sobey, finished 12 seconds behind Longcroft-Harris in 13th spot and a time of 51:50. Victoria-based Clayton Hutchins was 25th at 52:26, while Ontario’s Liam Donnelly placed 36th at 53:35.
Earlier in the day, Canada’s Sophia Howell was rock solid through the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike five-kilometre run along the waterfront in the women’s race that featured 41 athletes..
A great swim set the tone for the 20-year-old throughout the three-sport sprint test.
“I went into the race wanting to execute a good swim and be near the front,” said Howell. “I was happy to come out in the top-five and in the front.”
Howell stormed out of first transition with the frontrunners for the four-lap rip on the bike.
“I did want to race aggressively and push the bike if we had a break,” added Howell, who was helping to push the pace on the opening lap before the chase pack caught up.
“I settled in and just prepared for a hot and fast run. Unfortunately the heat got to me a bit on the run, but I’m happy with my swim-bike execution, and to finish in the top-15 in my second World Cup.”
Annika Koch lived up to her pre-race billing as the one to watch. The German took top spot on the podium with a time of 56:50. Slovakia’s Romana Gajdosova took the silver medal with a time of 57:06, while Bermuda’s Erica Hawley claimed the bronze at 57:07.
Canada’s Howell had comfort working at the front for the first two portions of the race with teammate Desirae Ridenour.
Howell and Ridenour (Cowichan Bay, B.C.) were among the first women into the first transition of the day and onto the bike course in Yeongdo, and part of a seven-woman pack setting the early pace.
As the 20-kilometre bike portion came to an end, Ridenour was one of three athletes producing a smooth and fast transition to commence the five-kilometre run course, but the deck quickly shuffled in the sizzling pace and heat, dropping the Canadian to 18th. Ridenour finished with a time of 58:27.
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