Draft-Legal Season Kicks Off In Clermont

The 2014 season begins Saturday for a number of U.S. elites who are set to race at the Clermont PATCO Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup.

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The 2014 season begins Saturday for a number of U.S. elites who are set to race at the Clermont (Fla.) PATCO Sprint Triathlon Pan American Cup at Lake Louisa State Park.Read the race preview from USA Triathlon below:

Held in conjunction with the Draft Legal Challenge at Clermont, the event features a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run for the nearly 80 athletes – both U.S. and international – slated to compete. The women’s elite race is scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern, followed by the men at 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Kaitlin Donner (Satellite Beach, Fla.) is the top returning finisher from the 2013 event, having finished on the podium in third place one year ago. U.S. Olympian Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.), who currently lives and trains in the area, will be making her return to racing after having a child in 2013. Haskins was third in this event two years ago.

Other U.S. women to watch include Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.), who is testing the waters of the elite ranks after winning the 2013 ITU Junior World Championships, and 2013 collegiate national champion Michelle Mehnert (Boulder, Colo.). Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.), Erin Dolan (Lincoln, Neb.) and Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who are members of USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, are also on the start list.

The women’s race also features Olympian Claudia Rivas (MEX), who won two Pan American Cup events in 2013, and Canadian Joanna Brown, who logged a number of top-five finishes in international events last year. Visit triathlon.org for a complete women’s start list.

In the men’s event, U.S. Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.) is looking for another podium finish in his hometown after finishing third in 2013. He also finished on the podium in 2011 and 2012. Kaleb VanOrt (Mishawaka, Ind.) also returns after finishing eighth last year, and William Huffman (Colleyville, Texas), who finished on the podium in two Pan American events in 2013, will also compete.

Other notable competitors for the men’s event include London 2012 Olympians Crisanto Grajales (MEX), Carlos Javier Quinchará Forero (COL) and Manuel Huerta (PUR). Visit triathlon.org for a complete men’s start list. 

Now in its fourth year, the Draft Legal Challenge at Clermont has become an early-season staple on the draft-legal calendar. Other races slated for race weekend include four USA Triathlon Under-25 Elite Development Races, as well as an age-group non-drafting event and a Youth F1 race Sunday. “We are thrilled to stage this event in central Florida to attract top talent from around the country and world,” said Bill Burnett, Race Director with Streamline Events. “Lake County offers an incredible place to athletes to visit and train, and we have had tremendous support from everyone in the area, including USA Triathlon leadership, as we work together to build a successful event year after year.”

PHOTOS: 2011 Clermont Draft-Legal Challenge

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