CLERMONT, Fla. - London Olympian Sarah Groff earned the women's victory, and Jarrod Shoemaker raced to third on the men's side to lead the United States at Saturday's Clermont (Fla.) ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup at Lake Louisa State Park.
Groff, who graduated from Coopertstown High School, notched a time of 1 hour, 17 seconds on the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course to earn her third career ITU Pan American Cup win. Olympian Helle Frederiksen of Denmark was second in 1:00:23, while Kaitlin Donner (Gainesville, Fla.) rounded out the women's podium in 1:00:31.
London Olympians Mario Mola of Spain and Richard Murray of South Africa went one-two on the men's side in 53:56 and 54:12, respectively. Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) earned his third straight podium finish in his hometown race, taking third in 54:20.
Less than a week after finishing second at the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco, Groff again displayed strong early season form with her second podium finish in as many weeks. She was among a lead group of four, including American Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.), out of the water and rode with the leaders throughout the 20k bike. Groff posted the day's fastest 5k split (17:43) en route to a six-second victory over Frederiksen.
Donner was third for her fourth career Pan American Cup finish, while Americans Alica Kaye (Clermont, Fla.), Katie Hursey (Hampstead, Md.), McLarty and Lauren Goss (Clermont, Fla.) added top-10 finishes. Hursey was seventh in her ITU debut.
In the subsequent men's race, Tommy Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) led the field out of the water by 17 seconds. At the midway point of the bike, a group of 11 - featuring Americans Shoemaker, Zaferes, Luke Farkas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Kyle Lee (Birmingham, Ala.) - formed the lead pack, and that group exited T2 within seven seconds of another.
On the run, Mola uncorked a 15:07 5k to post a 16-second win over Murray. Shoemaker's 15:27 run was good for third, while Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) finished eighth in 55:19. Farkas, Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.) and Zaferes finished just outside the top 10 in 11th, 12th and 13th, respectively. Farkas was making his elite debut.
Saturday's race marked the remarkable return to triathlon competition for Lukas Verzbicas (Colorado Springs, Colo.) following a serious, season-ending bike accident last July. The reigning USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year recorded a solid swim and rode with a chase pack throughout the 20k bike before withdrawing from the race after the first lap of the run. He was uninjured.
The day opened with the 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 athlete Kyla Chapman (Indianapolis, Ind.) won the women's race in 1:05:15, while Dan Hedgecock (Minneapolis, Minn.) took the men's win in 57:42.
The top three EDR finishers earned their professional cards - Chapman, Jessica Barton (Newton, Mass.) and Ashley Shiver (Satellite Beach, Fla.) on the women's side; and Hedgecock, T.J. Gleason (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and Jacob Rhyner (Clermont, Fla.) among the men.
Clermont ITU Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup - Complete Results
(750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run)
Women's Top 10
1. Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), 1:00:17
2. Helle Frederiksen (DEN), 1:00:23
3. Kaitlin Donner (Gainesville, Fla.), 1:00:31
4. Alicia Kaye (Clermont, Fla.), 1:00:44
5. Paula Findlay (CAN), 1:00:51
6. Carolina Routier (ESP), 1:01:07
7. Katie Hursey (Hampstead, Md.), 1:01:12
8. Radka Vodickova (CZE), 1:01:22
9. Sara McLarty (Clermont, Fla.), 1:02:40
10. Lauren Goss (Clermont, Fla.), 1:03:36