CAPE TOWN—Canada’s Matthew Sharpe opened the World Cup triathlon season with a solid 11th-place outing in spectacular Cape Town, South Africa on Saturday afternoon.
Rebounding after a difficult 750-metre, the 25-year-old Sharpe composed himself after bridging the gap with the leaders on the 20-kilometre bike course before running to a finish time of 52 minutes, 25 seconds as the lone Canadian in the field.
“All-in-all it was a good race to start the year. I had a few mistakes out there, but I wasn’t expecting any kind of perfection for my first event,” said the Victoria resident.
“My swim was poor and that had me playing catch up from the beginning. I worked hard at the beginning of the ride, and once I connected with the group, I had to sit in and recover for the run.”
With three South African athletes running away from the field, Sharpe dug deep to push a steady pace on the five-kilometre run course to cross the finish line in 11th.
“My run was okay, and I am happy with how I was able to push myself when things weren’t going great,” added Sharpe. “The key to this race was an opportunity to get feedback and a chance to dictate the training going forward. I have been training pretty hard with our Triathlon Canada group in Arizona so I was hoping for a better result, but there is certainly lots more to come.”
Richard Murray won on home soil for the first time since Cape Town hosted the 2014 World Triathlon Series. Murray led a South African sweep of the podium with a winning time of 51:33 despite having to serve a two-minute penalty for dropping his helmet outside the box in second transition.
Henri Schoeman finished eight seconds off the leading pace in second place with a time of 51:41. Wian Sullwald completed the triple medal celebration for South Africa after clocking-in for the bronze with a time of 51:56.
Canada’s Sharpe is coming off a dream season where he captured his first career World Cup podium finish after finishing second in Montreal last August. He backed that up weeks later with a career-best finish on the World Triathlon Series in Edmonton where he was 11th.
Sharpe will now join a deep contingent of Canadian triathletes for the North American Championships in early March.
The World Triathlon Series kicks off March 3 in Abu Dhabi. The next World Cup race is scheduled for Mooloolaba, Australia, March 11.