Karol-Ann Roy, Russell Pennock fight for fifth as top Canadians in Under-23 race action
DES MOINES, IA—Two of Canada’s most promising young triathletes, Charles Paquet and Oliver Blecher, rocked a one-two triathlon finish for the Canucks at the CAMTRI Junior Championships in Des Moines, Iowa on Saturday.
Paquet, who turns 19 , celebrated an early birthday present after dusting many of the top junior triathletes in the world. The Quebec City product clocked a time of 55 minutes 32 seconds in the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and 5-kilometre run course.
“The swim was quite difficult. The water was warm which I had to adjust too but I was able to swim with the lead pack which was my goal,” said Paquet. “The bike was strange today. It would be slow then really fast, but I just saved my energy for the run which was important because of the heat.”
The victory allows Paquet to book his return ticket back to the Junior World Championships.
“I made an attack early in the run to test my legs where we were able to drop the Mexican athlete. It was just me and Oliver and I knew if I was to earn a spot at World Championships, I’d have to win the race,” said Paquet. “A little later in the race I attacked again and was able to shake Oliver so I was happy. At that point I just had to keep my tempo and finish the race.”
While not on the top step of the podium, Blecher of Port Hope, Ont., continued his breakout season with another silver medal.
Blecher, who is coming off a silver and bronze medal at Junior European Cup races along with a silver at the North American Junior Championships in Sarasota, Florida earlier this year, was in podium contention throughout the three disciplines. Disappointed with his swim, Blecher rebounded to stay at the front of the pack of 14 on the bike, setting himself up for a run for the medals.
“Traditionally I like to rely on a swim-bike breakaway, but nobody was willing to pull through in our group so it ended up being a really slow bike,” said Blecher, who added a second pack of 30 caught the lead group on the bike. “Charles and I tried to breakaway on the second lap. We opened a 50-metre gap, but it didn’t last long. Everybody was saving their legs for the run, and it was really just about staying hydrated in the heat and preparing for the run.”
Both Canadians avoided a massive crash with 300-metres to go on the narrow and technical bike course where Paquet, Blecher and a Mexican athlete charged to open an early lead out of second transition onto the run.
“I was confident coming onto the run with a large group and had a great start. It was so hot out there I just wanted to stay cool. Charles was running strong and he and I dropped the Mexican athlete (near the end of the first lap). Charles then attacked, and opened a gap where he held on for the rest of the run,” said Blecher. “I consider myself a strong cyclist, but at the end of the day, I was confident with where my run was and Charles was just a stronger runner today. There are lots of positives to take away from today and I’m motivated to get ready for Nationals.”
American Graham Pimentel rounded out the Junior Men’s podium with a bronze-medal time of 56:32.
Meanwhile, it was Winnipeg’s Kyla Roy finishing as the top Canadian in the Junior Women’s race. Roy, who medalled in every National Junior Series race last year, finished just off the podium in fourth place with a time of 1:03:35.
“It was a hot one out there. We worked well together on the bike, and I just tried to hold on for the run as long as I could,” said Roy, who was part of a group of four that split off from a larger pack on the 20-kilometre bike course. “I knew there was some fast runners behind me but I just went as hard as I could.”
The Americans grabbed the first three spots on the Junior Women’s podium. Taylor Knibb was first at 1:00:10, while Page Lester was second at 1:02:03, and Kyleigh Spearing completed the sweep with a time of 1:02:23.
Edmonton’s Russell Pennock and Quebec’s Karol-Ann Roy were the top Canadians in the Under-23 Men’s and Women’s races with each of them posting fifth-place finishes. Pennock clocked in at 55:36, while Roy posted a time of 1:02:50.
Mexico captured the gold in both Under-23 races. Cesar Saracho was first to cross the line in the men’s Under-23 event with a time of 55:00, while Vanessa De La Torre won the women’s race with a time of 1:01:22