By Karl Hayes
Newly crowned World 70.3 Champion Melissa Rollison was too good for the field at Nepean yesterday and also for the boys as she won both the women’s race and the handicap prize by finishing ahead of the first male. Last year Rollison was second after making a few rookie errors and charging out of T2 at Olympic 200m pace. This year things were different and with much more experience, the seemingly unbeatable Melissa Rollison posted the fastest bike time and ran over three minutes quicker than second place Michelle Wu and third place Matilda Raynolds.
Tim Reed went in to Nepean with a very set race plan. Employing some tactics used by the legend Greg Bennett, Reed sat down and planned this race and executed it perfectly. He knew after placing second at Port Macquarie 70.3 last weekend, that he would lack a bit of top end speed on the run and worked his plan around this.
With a couple of very strong swim/bikers in the field Reed planned to make an early get away. He broke away with Joey Lampe and Matt Williams and the three paced each other enough to get the lead they needed to try and stay ahead of the likes of Mitch Robins, Cam Good, Kane Simpson and co.
This race win was special to Reed. As a relatively young guy Tim Reed is old school. You only need to see him racing in Budgie Smugglers to know straight away that there is more to just racing triathlons when it comes to Reed. He loves the history of the sport and sees races like Nepean, with names on the winner’s trophy a who’s who of the greats of Australian triathlon, as the type of races he wants to win. Nepean harks back to the old days when triathlon was great in Australia and there were local series that breed some of the world’s greatest triathletes. These series of yesteryear have gone and as a result the up and coming triathletes in Australia don’t have the series needed to push them on to greater things. Instead they have to, at great expense head overseas to race in Europe and the US.
Mitch Robins put last weekend out of his mind and finished with a well deserved second place. Robins knew that he would have to minimise the damage on the bike and run fast in this race if he was to pressure Reed. The got close after posting a run time almost one minute quicker than Reeds but at the end of the day the gap Reed put on him on the bike was just a bit too much. Reed’s 5150 racing in the USA over our winter really taught him a lot about non-drafting Olympic distance racing.
Joey Lampe backed up really well after his 4th place at Port Macquarie 70.3 last weekend. Lampe keeps impressing everyone in the sport. He is a big guy and one of the nicest people you will meet. He is showing that pound for pound he is one of the quickest around. As he gains experience and matures he will be a force to reckon with.
Matilda Raynolds had a great race and only missed out on second place to Michelle Wu in the last 500m. Raynolds backed herself today and made a few attempts to drop Wu on the run but in the end those efforts would come back to haunt her in the last 500m. After winning the Taiwan 70.3 last weekend Wu felt she would be missing a bit of speed and Raynolds tried to capitalise on this.
Michelle Wu was over the moon with the second and loved racing once again at Nepean. The short drive from Canberra was much more appealing than packing bikes etc and catching planes.
After coming 5th at Noosa two weeks ago Matilda Raynolds is starting to believe in herself more and more. Nepean added to her self belief and she has come away with the extra experience of backing herself to be able to â€˜think’ that she can match it with the top girls.
Natalie Van Coevorden and Ellis Salthouse used their ITU swim speed to lead the female field out on to the bike but were soon swamped by the stronger non-drafting girls on the bike. These non-drafting girls were then able to put enough time in to them over the 30kms on the bike to hold off the faster running Van Coevorden and Salthouse. That is except Rollison who is unbeatable over most distances. Although she doesn’t train for Olympic distance she is still running faster than most.
Sam Douglas showed once again that he is getting stronger and stronger. For a big guy he can run well and under the watchful eye of Mark Newton is making big in roads in to winning and placing highly at the big races. Two weeks ago Douglas won the open category at the Noosa Triathlon. He is getting his run to the stage he needs it at. Kane Simpson had a great race also to finish in 4th place. Simpson and Michael Murphy had the fastest swims of the day with Simpson going on to mpost a 33min+ run. Once again the non-drafting guys put too much time on to Simpson on the bike. Cameron Good raced well considering he has had some time off training recently. His swim/run combo was the fastest of the day. He acknowledged after that the bike needs a fair bit of work.
Young Matt Williams has a class leading swim/bike combo and with time should get his run up to the pace it needs to be. Williams is very young and has plenty of time to work on this aspect. We should see great things from him over the next few years.
It was interesting to hear after the race many of the young ITU triathletes who raced in Europe over winter talking about how much they got put in their place on the bike yesterday by the non-drafting triathletes. ITU racing is a swim/run affair. If you can get your swim to the level where you can get out of the water in the front bike pack you can then conserve energy on the bike and once off it becomes a 10km foot race.
However when racing non-drafting races like Nepean and the new 5150 series it becomes evident that there is a lot of speed being lost on the bike when focusing purely on ITU. The new 5150 Olympic distance series being held in the USA and Europe pays well and many of the ITU triathletes are starting to look at this as an alternative option. Along with the 70.3 series professional triathletes are talking more and more about focusing their racing on these two series.
In the women’s age group race Christine Wolfson in the 40-44 age group finished 7th overall with a time of 1:49:43.
Apologies if I have missed mentioning someone great performance.
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