Major League Triathlon team Colorado Peaks notch another podium | VailDaily.com

Major League Triathlon team Colorado Peaks notch another podium

Paula Findlay of the Colorado Peaks leaves the first transition of the Major League Triathlon race in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on Saturday. Findlay's strong bike performance put the Peaks into podium contention; they went on to finish third.
Lindsey Jerdonek | Special to the Daily |

Major League Triathlon is coming

When: Saturday, Aug. 26

More information: The Colorado Peaks will host the other seven Major League Triathlon professional teams at Nottingham Park in Avon. Join the team for a weekend of racing, food, clinics, music and more. Major League Triathlon will host an amateur race in conjunction with the pro event, details to be announced soon.

A Major League Triathlon Expo and Festival will be held at Nottingham Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., featuring local and national vendors, interaction opportunities with pros, kid zones, food trucks, live music, a national headliner concert and more. The pro race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

Edwards native John O’Neill and the Colorado Peaks scored another Major League Triathlon podium finish Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The race was the second of the Major League Triathlon season and took place in the Atlantic Ocean and on the historic boardwalk alongside it.

O’Neill, who raced in Continental Cup and World Cup events before joining the Colorado Peaks, said it was one of the most unique event settings he has ever experienced.

“I’ve never ridden my bike on a course made of wood before,” he said.

The Peaks finished third in the eight-team competition behind winners the Cleveland Rock & Roll, and runners up the Indy Cats. Major League Triathlon races are held in a relay format, with teams racing to be first to see two male and two female competitors cross the finish line. An athlete’s individual leg consists of a .75 mile swim, a 4 mile bike ride and a 1 mile run and usually takes 20 minutes or less.

O’Neill said the Peaks have their anchor, fourth and final racer Paula Findlay, to thank for getting the team to the podium. O’Neill ran third.

“I handed off to Paula in fifth or sixth, and I thought we were out of it, and definitely off the podium,” O’Neill said. “But Paula had just an incredible swim and then got on the bike and rode through the field, riding by herself and passing girls who were riding in packs, which is something you don’t usually see … we went from being totally out of it to being right back in thanks to her.”

LUCK BE A LADY

O’Neill said the team was lucky to have Findlay as their anchor.

“We didn’t put her in a very good position to do well for the team, but somehow she did it,” he said.

O’Neill is himself often a victim of bad luck in races. One time, as he was running toward the home stretch, a fan lost control of a banner and the wind blew it down in front of the finish line, giving it the appearance that it was the finish line and causing O’Neill to stop short. Another time, O’Neill was kicked in the head during the swim portion of a race, in the right spot to rupture his eardrum in the water.

O’Neill said on Saturday, during his swim, he once again found himself in bad fortune.

“When I was swimming, Ben Kanute caught up to me in the water, which is a good thing because he’s a faster swimmer than me and you get a significant draft in the water,” O’Neill said. “I was right on his feet, swimming well from the draft, and we went around one of the turn bouys and I got tangled up in the rope underneath the buoy and just totally lost Ben.”

O’Neill said in looking back at the race after it was finished, he found that part to be extremely frustrating. But then he hit the blackjack tables in Atlantic City and his luck changed.

“I actually won some money at the casino, so I guess it wasn’t all bad luck for me,” he said.

AVON IN AUGUST

Following the race, Kanute — a member of the second place Indy Cats — said in his 16 years of racing as a professional, he has never raced on a boardwalk course before. Kanute, who competed at the Olympics in 2016, made an effort to catch Rock & Roll racer AJ Baucco during his leg, but wasn’t able to take the lead.

“Ben was barreling down on me,” Baucco said in reference to the running section on the boardwalk, where competitors ran short laps, never losing sight of each other. “Every single time I passed him he would just look straight at me; I could tell he was trying to intimidate me. That was fun, though, I like racing against a guy like Ben.”

Sarah Alexander, who ran the anchor leg for the Rock & Roll, said she was surprised by how nice the boardwalk racing was.

“It was much smoother than I anticipated, actually,” she said. “And it was super fun to have the spectators right there.”

O’Neill said he was impressed by how safe and organized officials were able to keep the scene.

“There was no sand on the wood, your bike kept its traction, and every one of those planks is held in by a few screws, so your big fear is some of those screws getting loose and causing a flat tire, but we had none of that,” O’Neill said Sunday. “And this is Atlantic City, New Jersey, and you’re trying to race bikes and there’s people everywhere, but somehow the Atlantic City PD did a really good job of keeping people off the course. So I was really impressed overall.”

Major League Triathlon action continues Aug. 26 when O’Neill and the Colorado Peaks will compete at home at a first ever competition in Avon’s Nottingham Park.



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