Aaron Royle has had the baton passed to him by Brendan Sexton and continued the Australian male dominance of this exciting triathlon run in London’s CBD at night. The GE Canary Wharf triathlon is a two round short format triathlon with two heats then a final for both the male and female races. Australian’s featured strongly throughout with 7 top 10 places in total.
This is one race Royle loves. He finished 4th last year and with the win this year it has gone up even further on his favourite race list. The race format is a heat and a final of a super sprint triathlon (400/9/2.1). After his steady climb up the ladder this season Royle was pumped after his win against some solid competition. “What makes it so unique, apart from the format is the night time race and the extra atmosphere that is around due to this. To be honest I was feeling pretty ordinary all day before the race and even in my heat I felt pretty flat. I had raced 4 days earlier, so I wasn’t too surprised to be feeling a bit flat. It was a â€˜nothing to lose’ kind of race with absolutely no pressure to perform, so when I wasn’t feeling to flash I wasn’t too stressed.”
In the women’s Tamsyn Moana-Veale had an solid race coming in 4th overall with fellow Australian Ashlee Bailie hot on her heels in 5th. Ahead of these girls were England’s Katie Hewison and Liz Blatchford with South Africa’s Gillian Saunders in 3rd. A 5 place improvement from last year saw Natalie Van Coevorden take 8th overall.
Tamsyn, Natalie and Ashlee all headed out on to the bike with the lead group with a plan to ride together but with the short and fast 9+km ride it didn’t quite pan out. The fast pace of the race got in the way of best laid plans. After exiting the water in 3rd out on the bike Van Coevorden found herself spending too much time at the front which impacted her run. The race plan for the women was to get Bailie off the front and try to give her a 20-30 gap on to the run.
Grace Musgrove is one of the fast movers in the sport. After only taking up triathlons last season Musgrove has come from nowhere and is racing with some of the best. Finishing 14th overall her only weakness in this race was a slower bike time. She can swim and has a solid run.
For Royle the heat (the first round) was harder than expected but he didn’t think that was a bad thing as it definitely ‘woke the body up for the final’. Four athletes including Royle had a small break on the bike in the heat and were able to back the run off a little to conserve themselves for the final. Royle won the heat and progressed to the final along with the top 8 from each of the 2 heats.
In the final a small group pushed hard off the front in the swim. As we have seen this year Royle has demonstrated his ability to get out of the water with the lead swimmers at the highest ITU level and stay with them on the bike. This was what happened at Canary Wharf. “A couple of gun USA swimmers led the swim and I was able to get onto their feet before the swim exit. We pushed hard through transition to maintain our lead and worked well throughout the 9 lap 9km ride â€“ (yes 9 laps totaling 9km). The two USA guys were really strong on the bike so it was great to be in a break off the front with them. Our gap to the main field hovered around 20 seconds.”
By the end of the ride the gap was 17 seconds which should be enough on a 2km run at this level. “We had to ride pretty hard to keep our lead so you can never exactly tell until the run starts. I didn’t go out to hard on the run, as I knew if the guys from behind caught me that I would need a strong last 500 meters to stay with them. Royle knew they were catching and just get to the last 500 meters in the lead and back himself in the final sprint. “Jarred Shoemaker and Aaron Harris were the two that caught me, but they only just ran onto my shoulder with 100 meters to go and once they did I opened up my sprint. They both went with me but I was able to hold them off and get a few little fist pumps in before the finish line.”
“It’s always a great feeling winning, but it’s an even better feeling if you can do it leading from start to finish.”
Playing a support role in the final was Ryan Bailie. It is interesting to hear how the tactics played out. Bailie was in the chase pack about 10 seconds down on Aaron’s group starting the 9km bike. With Bailie, in this pack,
were all the strong runners. “It was a case of doing anything I could to disrupt the work of the guys in the chase pack and let Aaron’s pack gain as bigger advantage as possible. I did everything possible to slow the pack down from sitting second wheel and not rolling over, to leading through corners and not accelerating out of them properly. Everything in the book I could pull to give the front pack a bigger lead I did with out being dangerous or stupid about it.”
The British boys had the fire power to bring it back and they were caught napping to an extent and by the time they caught on it was too late. It obviously worked with Aaron’s pack gaining close to 30 secs come T2.
Ryan Bailie ended up finishing 10th with a solid run.
Peter Kerr finished 8th overall just 5 seconds ahead of Bailie. Only 33 seconds separated the top 11 men.
|3||Gillian Saunders||South Africa||0:28:37||0:04:58||0:16:06||0:07:32|
|7||Georgia Taylor Brown||England||0:28:59||0:04:50||0:16:17||0:07:51|
|8||Natalie Van Coevorden||Australia||0:29:06||0:04:51||0:16:13||0:08:01|