Canada's Kyle Jones completed a strong tune-up before the start of the World Triathlon Series kicks off next month with a fourth-place finish at the ITU Pan America Cup sprint race on Saturday in Clermont, Fla.
The 28-year-old Jones, who is the new leader of the Canadian men's triathlon squad, tested his off-season training by completing the 750-metre swim, 20-kilometre bike and five-kilometre run course in a time of 54 minutes 32 seconds.
"The first race of the year is always a toss up. Coming off a winter of solid training it is always hard to tell how the body will respond," said Jones. "For the most part I was pleased with how I raced. I had a great swim placing myself in the top-10 out of the water, worked well with a small group on the bike, but unfortunately I didn't have the legs on the run that I needed to compete for the win."
Jones, from Oakville, Ont., is looking to take a major step forward in getting into the medal mix regularly with the world's best after winning his first World Cup race last summer on Canadian soil in Edmonton — just weeks before making his Olympic debut in London where he finished as the top Canadian.
"In these sprint races there is little room for error so you have to be ready to really it for the five kilometres on the run." said Jones. "With a bit more rest and recovery, I fell like I'll be ready to roll come [the start of the World Triathlon Series] Auckland."
Jones' 24-year-old teammate, Andrew Yorke of Caledon, Ont., also had a solid debut for the 2013 season by finishing in fifth spot at 54:40.
Spain's Mario Mola won the men's race with a time of 53:56. South Africa's Richard Murray ran to the silver medal with a time of 54:12, while American Jarrod Shoemaker locked up the bronze medal after clocking-in at 54:19.
Earlier in the day, Edmonton's Paula Findlay returned to competition with a fifth-place finish after posting a time of 1:00.51.
"The most important thing is it felt great to be back, and racing healthy," said Findlay. "I have been working with an incredible group of girls, and we have been doing some hard training so I knew I was injury free. I'm not in race fitness yet, but that wasn't the point today. I was pretty relaxed, but was a little nervous. It was really nice to go in a race with an open mind against the girls I've been training with."
Findlay's last two seasons have been marred by a nagging hip injury. Her last competitive start was a heart-breaking struggle to the finish at the London Olympics.
"This is the beginning of a long rebuild both physically and mentally for me and it is really important for me to feel like I can be a racer again," said Findlay, who will start a Continental Cup race in Sarasota, Florida next weekend. "This is my first sprint race since 2008, then I'll do my first Olympic distance race, and then I'm going to have to do my first World Triathlon Series race. Everything is new again. It will be a slow rebuild, but I'm happy and feeling good right now."
Olympian Sarah Goff of the United States won the women's race with a time of 1:00.17. Denmark's Helle Frederiksen ran her way to the silver-medal position on the podium with a time of 1:00.23, while American Kaitlin Donner placed third at 1:00.44.