Canada’s Alexis Lepage had a nearly perfect start to his 2018 season, winning the silver medal at the CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup development race in Clermont, Florida on Saturday.
The 23-year-old from Gatineau, Que., had one of the best performances of his career after crossing the finish line second with a time of 54:30.1 to capture his third CAMTRI podium.
“It feels good to get on the podium. I didn’t’ have many expect
ations heading into this race, but I knew I was in good shape with my solid swim and bike training over the winter,” said Lepage, who sprained his ankle last month. “I am confident in my ability to perform at this level. I really was trying for a top-five today, so I’m very happy to finish second.”
The lanky Canuck came out of the water fourth in the international field of 39 athletes who dove into the 750-metre swim. Heading into transition two nearly 17 seconds behind the two frontrunners of the water, Lepage strategically settled into a chase pack that caught the leaders at the midway point of the 20-kilometre bike course, forming a group of 12 in the lead pack.
“I decided to just relax in the first two kilometres of the bike. Once we caught the pack, I took my pulls at the front and tried to keep the pack organized because I knew there were some good runners behind us,” said Lepage.
Charging out of second transition, Lepage led a group of five onto the five-kilometre run course.
“I decided to slow down about one kilometre in because there was a strong headwind and I strategically wanted to save my energy for the final 500 metres,” added Lepage. “I was able to respond to the attack with 400 metres to go, and was happy with my sprint finish. I had good legs today.”
Eli Hemming, of the United States, led the golden attack. Hemming clocked a winning time of 54:18.9.
Canada’s Lepage edged out Seth Rider of the United States for the silver medal. Rider finished one second behind the Canuck in third at 54:31.5.
Two other Canadians also battled their way into the top-10. Hamilton’s Taylor Forbes gutted out a fifth-place finish with a time of 54:47.8. Charles Paquet, of Port Cartier, Que., fell off the leading pace on the run, but hung on for eighth spot with a time of 55:45.9.
The American flag also hung above the gold-medal step of the women’s podium. Erika Ackerlund was top in women’s dash for the finish line in the sprint distance race. Ackerlund captured top spot on the podium with a time of 1:02:47.1, topping Hungary’s Zsofia Kovacs by one second. Mary Alex England, also of the United States, punched the clock at 1:02:52.8.
Winnipeg’s Kyla Roy was the only one of the four Canadian women to lock up a spot in the top-10. The 19-year-old reigning Canadian junior champ stopped the clock at 1:05:20.0 for 10th spot.
“I had a great start to the swim, but the water was super choppy and I soon found myself falling behind. I was able to have a good transition out of the swim, and managed to catch some people on the bike,” said Roy, who was part of Canada’s World Championship squad last year. “I was in a group of three people and we were holding a solid gap from the large first pack. I just tried to stay in the race on the run, and caught some people. Overall it was a good first race of the 2018 season.”