Taylor Knibb, Taylor Spivey Impress with Podium Performances in Inaugural Eliminator Race in Montreal

by USA Triathlon

taylor knibb, flora duffy, taylor spivey on the podium together at montreal

MONTREAL — In what turned into a battle of the Taylors, Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) and Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal, finishing behind only Olympic champion Flora Duffy of Bermuda, who just last month became her country’s first Olympic gold medalist.

This is the first time Knibb, 23, and Spivey, 30, have shared a podium at the World Triathlon Championship Series level, though the second time two U.S. women have done so in the 2021 season’s four events held so far with one remaining. Knibb and fellow 2020 Olympian Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), who did not compete in Montreal, went 1-2 at the Yokohama competition in May.

“I’m very surprised and grateful,” Knibb said of the result. “Congrats to Flora – she ran impressively – and congrats to Taylor Spivey – she really made it a fight and I love that.”

In the past 18 days, Knibb has placed 16th in the women’s race at her Olympic debut, won an Olympic silver medal in the inaugural mixed relay, taken second at the IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder — her first-ever long-course triathlon — and now won her second World Triathlon Championship Series medal of the season.

Saturday’s podium was Spivey’s first on the World Triathlon Championship Series circuit since the May 2019 Yokohama race.

“Honestly, I’m really surprised,” Spivey said. “The last few months have been really tough not making the U.S. [Olympic] team. I’ve been pretty down the last few months, and I’m just so happy to come away with a podium here in Montreal. I didn’t know how I would do today because this format is so unusual, and I can’t even put this into words.”
Duffy won the super-sprint Montreal race in a time of 23 minutes, 7 seconds, followed by Knibb at 23:14 and Spivey in 23:24. Fresh off winning the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo, Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.) was just off the podium in fourth with a time of 23:33, marking her best World Triathlon Championship Series result since winning the 2019 Grand Final in August of that year.

The Montreal race was contested in a brand-new eliminator format that consisted of three super-sprint stages to the final, with each held roughly 15 minutes after the other. Each stage covered a 300-meter swim, 7.2-kilometer bike and 2-kilometer run.

Thirty athletes per gender, who earned their spots through Friday’s qualifying races, started the final. The 20 top finishers in the first stage advanced to the second stage, and the top 10 in the second moved on to the third and final stage.

All five U.S. women who entered the Montreal event made it to Saturday's final.

Knibb dominated both the bike and run in the first stage, with Duffy and Spivey joining her for a lead group that established a gap of at least 23 seconds ahead of the rest of the field after the bike. Knibb won that race in 23:41, ahead of Germany’s Laura Lindemann (23:44) and Anabel Knoll (23:44). Zaferes was sixth, Spivey 10th, Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) 16th and Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) 19th.

Knibb, Zaferes and Spivey continued their pursuit for the podium in Stage 2, all placing in the top five with Knibb second, Zaferes third and Spivey fifth. Lindemann won in 23:42. Kasper and Ackerlund were eliminated, unable to make the top 10 with placements of 16th and 18th (24:32, 24:36).

In the third and final stage, it was Spivey who led at first for the Americans. She was fourth out of the water, behind Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell, Lindemann and Duffy. That foursome formed a lead group at the start of the ride, though the remainder of the field caught up before long with Knibb then moving to the front.

On the second of three laps on the bike, Knibb, Duffy and Spivey clearly separated themselves and were more than 24 seconds ahead of the others heading into the run. Zaferes led the chase group on the bike and did much of the work for the handful of athletes behind her, but the lead trio refused to be caught. Duffy broke ahead of the Taylors at the end of the first of two laps on the run and maintained her lead clear through to the finish.

With her first World Triathlon Championship Series victory since May 2018 – and the 11th of her career – Duffy replaced the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma at the top of the World Triathlon Championship rankings in the penultimate race. Spivey moved up two spots to sit in second, 467 points behind Duffy and nine ahead of Kingma. Knibb jumped three places for fourth, 79 points away from the series podium, while Zaferes remains in sixth.

The World Triathlon Championship Series Grand Final will be held next Saturday, Aug. 21, in Edmonton, Alberta.

The men’s race on Saturday in Montreal saw a historic podium sweep by France while two Americans made it to the final stage, securing top-10 finishes.

A group of 19 athletes appeared to cross the finish line together, all in times of 21:53 and 21:54, in the first stage. Led by this summer’s Olympic bronze medalist Hayden Wilde of New Zealand, the group included two of the three Americans.

2014 Youth Olympian Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), in 14th, and 2020 Olympian Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), in 18th, made it through to the second stage. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.) finished 25th with a time of 22:10 in only the second World Triathlon Championship Series race of his career. Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.) was eliminated in the repechage on Friday, placing 37th overall.

McDowell and Rider broke through as potential podium contenders in the second stage, with McDowell crossing in second behind Frenchman Léo Bergere in 21:28. Rider was three seconds back in eighth, joining McDowell in advancing.

In the third and final stage, Rider was third in the swim and McDowell fifth. The Olympic mixed relay silver medalist led after the first lap on the bike, with Rider in the lead by the end of that leg with McDowell in fifth.

They both appeared to have a chance at the first World Triathlon Championship Series podium of their careers, but McDowell pulled out of the race during the second transition.

The Frenchmen separated themselves in the final leg, with Dorian Coninx winning in 22:08, followed by Vincent Luis (22:09) and Bergere (22:11). The fourth-place finisher was five seconds back from Bergere. This is just the second time in World Triathlon Championship Series history that a nation has swept the men’s podium.

Rider's ninth-place result is a career-best finish. He moved up 15 spots in the rankings and now sits in 20th heading into Edmonton.

McDowell dropped one place in the standings to 10th. Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.), who was on the Olympic medal-winning mixed-relay team with Knibb, McDowell and Zaferes, fell three spots by not racing and is seventh.

The racing action in Montreal continues on Sunday, as 10 countries will field Mixed Relay teams following a similar format as the Olympic Mixed Relay competition. With teams of four, each athlete will cover a 300m swim, 6.6k bike and 1.9k run before tagging off to the next teammate, alternating female-male-female-male. The four-person Mixed Relay rosters for all teams will be unveiled on race morning.

2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Montreal
300m swim, 7.2k bike, 2k run

Elite WomenComplete Results
1. Flora Duffy (BER), 23:07
2. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 23:14
3. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 23:24

U.S. Finishers
2. Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.), 23:14
3. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 23:24
4. Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.), 23:33
16. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), eliminated in final Stage 2
18. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), eliminated in final Stage 2

Elite MenComplete Results
1. Dorian Coninx (FRA), 22:08
2. Vincent Luis (FRA), 22:09
3. Léo Bergere (FRA), 22:11

U.S. Finishers
9. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 22:57
10. Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.), DNF in final Stage 3
25. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.), eliminated in final Stage 1
37. Davis Bove (Franklin, Tenn.), eliminated in repechage

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