Continued Success!! San Fran Pan-Am Cup

Posted on July 13, 2011


This past Saturday I competed in the San Francisco Continental Cup held on Treasure Island. It was the third time in my career that I have done this race. The first two tries were disasters resulting in flat tires, but the third time proved to be the charm for me. I went into the race ranked 4th. I knew that the swim would be critical as there were a number of Olympic-trial calibur swimmers in the field including Dustin McLarty and Tommy Zafares. I couldn’t let them get away early with a few of the other Canadian hotshot swimmers and potentially grow their lead on the bike. It was an in-water start in the chilly San Francisco Bay. When the race got underway I got out well and had clean water all the way to the first buoy. The super-swimmers had gotten out faster and I merged into their wake at the first buoy. Then things got rough as I clashed with about six other guys all fighting for that inside position. I took an elbow to the nose and was completely disoriented for about 30 seconds. As the pandamonium of the first buoy brawl died down I was able to re-focus, find a rhythm, and begin working my way up through the field. I continued moving up, slowly but surely, throughout the first 1000 meters. I settled in at the head of the small chase pack, which was about 20 meters down from the lead guys. I knew I had to work hard to keep it close. The top ranked athlete in the field was Leonardo Chacon of Costa Rica. I noticed him in my pack, and I felt confident that together Chacon and I could easily bridge up to the leaders on the bike. The small front group of 5 exited the water in the mid-18:40s, and my group was out in around 19-flat. We had successfully been able to neutralize the potential swim breakaway.

Out onto the bike I found myself in a small group with Chacon, Andrew McCartney (CAN), and a Kiwi. It took us less than one lap to bridge up and merge into one 10-12 man lead pack. The bike course was six laps, mostly flat and very technical. Our pack worked together fairly well, and we were able to grow our lead on the chase packs behind us. There were a couple times when one or two guys tried to go off the front, but the only one I was really concerned about was Chacon, so I didn’t give chase to these small breaks. I helped out at the front some but also worked on conserving my energy and sitting in at times. With all the technical turns I wanted to be a bit cautious to assure that I stayed rubber-side down. Because of strong winds, the ride was deceptively hard, but our group stayed together and we rolled into transition with an 80-second lead.

As we started the run, I began to employ the same strategy that I did a few weeks ago in Coteau-du-Lac, an ITU race that I won. I began running conservatively not worrying about what my competition did. I settled into fifth place behind McLarty (USA), Sharpe (CAN), Bird (CAN), and Chacon (CRC). I was feeling good, and 1.5 miles into the run I began to go to work and start picking guys off. I easily moved past McLarty and Bird and was closing on Chacon. Sharpe had taken the pace out hard and opened up a sizable lead. The run was three out-and-back laps. At the end of the first lap I was running in third on the shoulder of Chacon. I continued to push the pace and at the 5k mark I slowly began to open up a gap on Chacon. Starting the bell lap I was comfortably in second and really began to turn on the jets in pursuit of Sharpe. He had a 20 second advantage on me. I gave it everything I had and slowly began reeling in Sharpe, but it just wasn’t happening fast enough. The young Canadian had seen my strategy two weeks ago in Couteau-du-Lac and knew that I would come on strong in the later stages of the run. Sharpe dug deep and was able to cross the line first. I was second place just 10 seconds back.

San Francisco marked an end to a solid block of racing for me. Between this race and winning Coteau-du-Lac two weeks I have moved up from the 14th-ranked American on the ITU points list to 8th! As always, a huge thank you to my sponsors — TYR, Team Psycho, Parlee Cycles, Fuel Belt, PowerBar, and Fit Werx — for all their support and encouragement!

Posted in: Race Reports