Jenkins, Rouault Win Elite Sprint Race In Clermont

Great Britian's Helen Jenkins and France's Greg Rouault took the overall wins at the 2011 Clermont ITU Pan American Cup, while Jarrod Shoemaker and Sarah Haskins finished as the top Americans to take the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship titles.

Great Britian’s Helen Jenkins and France’s Greg Rouault took the overall wins at the 2011 Clermont ITU Pan American Cup, while Jarrod Shoemaker and Sarah Haskins finished as the top Americans to take the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship titles.

In the opening event of the 2011 USA Triathlon Elite Race Series, U.S. Olympians Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker  claimed the first-ever USA Triathlon Elite Sprint National Championship titles as the top American finishers Saturday at Lake Louisa State Park.

Also a sprint-distance ITU Pan American Cup, the event featured an international field with Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins and Greg Rouault of France placing first overall in the women’s and men’s races, respectively. With their wins Saturday, Jenkins and Rouault sit atop the USA Triathlon Elite Race Series standings after the first of six events.

Jenkins was the overall women’s winner in 55:05 over the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course. Haskins finished as the runner-up and Elite Sprint National Champion in 55:53, while Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) ran her way to third in 55:57.

The men’s race was tightly contested to the tape with Rouault finishing first in 50:28, just three seconds ahead of Shoemaker, who grabbed the Elite Sprint national title in 50:31. First-year elite Kaleb VanOrt (USA) was third in 50:34.

In the women’s elite race, local favorite and standout swimmer Sara McLarty (USA) took the lead out of the water and onto the bike. A pack of five, featuring Jenkins, Haskins, McLarty, Alicia Kaye (USA) and Flora Duffy (BER) maintained a comfortable advantage of more than 30 seconds on the chase pack for much of the bike. Once on the run, Jenkins quickly broke away, building a 20-second lead on Haskins at the midway point. Jorgensen closed fast and matched Jenkins with a 15:40 run split to round out the podium and finish as the second American. Jillian Petersen (USA) was the third U.S. finisher.

“I’m pleased with today just for the fact that we haven’t done a whole lot of speed work yet this season,” said Haskins, who was hampered by injury late in 2010. “We’re kind of building it a little slower due to the fact that I had about 10 weeks off from running last fall. I’m pleased with how I felt …”

The men were tightly bunched out of the water and throughout the bike with more than 40 riders in the lead pack. American Ben Collins (USA) led the charge out of T2, but VanOrt and Shoemaker quickly joined a lead group of four athletes midway through the run. In the end, it was Rouault breaking the tape with just six seconds separating the podium. Chris Foster (USA) finished fifth overall and was the third American.

“That was the probably the best race that we could have had for early in the season,” Shoemaker said. “It was fast from beginning to end … We were just hammering the entire bike, and it was really good for me to work on positioning and trying to make sure I was up toward the front of the bike pack coming in. On the run … it was fun to be out there just going for it.”

In addition to racing, Shoemaker also served as one of the event organizers. “I don’t think things could have gone better,” Shoemaker said. “Before I even started racing I had 10 or 15 of the age-groupers come up and say ‘thank you, this was fun, it was awesome, it was well done.’ That makes me feel good …”

The age-groupers kicked off the day with the Draft Legal Challenge at Clermont, the first USA Triathlon-sanctioned draft-legal event open to all amateur athletes. Following a non-drafting race, the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program, which aims to introduce triathlon to talented former collegiate runners and swimmers, took center stage, claiming both age-group titles.

Natalie Kirchhoff (Columbia, Mo.), a former collegiate swimmer at Rice, and Jake Rhyner (Sheboygan, Wis.), a runner from Wisconsin-La Crosse, were the overall winners in the draft-legal event.

Race recap provided by USA Triathlon. Click here to read more about the other races that took place in Clermont.

2011 Clermont ITU Pan American Cup
Clermont, Fla. – March 5, 2011
750m swim, 20K bike, 5K run

1. Helen Jenkins (GBR) 55:05
2. Sarah Haskins (USA) 55:53
3. Gwen Jorgensen (USA)
4. Jillian Petersen (USA) 56:46
5. Non Stanford (GBR) 56:53

1. Greg Rouault (FRA) 50:28
2. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA)50:31
3. Kaleb VanOrt (USA) 50:34
4. Todd Leckie (GBR) 50:47
5. Chris Foster (USA) 50:54