AustraliaÂ has finished a fighting fourth in a dramatic ITU Mixed Triathlon Relay World Championship inÂ HamburgÂ overnight.
Â The Aussie foursome ofÂ Emma Moffatt, Aaron Royle, Ashleigh GentleÂ andÂ Peter KerrÂ finished 38 seconds behind bronze medallists theÂ USAÂ with host countryÂ GermanyÂ taking out the gold medal andÂ New ZealandÂ the silver in an action-packed event in front of a massive crowd.
Â But there were dramatic scenes when defending and two-time champions, race leadersÂ Great BritainÂ were eliminated after Saturday’s individual silver medallistÂ Non StanfordÂ crashed her bike in the third leg.
Â The Brits had opened up a commanding lead after individual bronze medallistÂ Jodie StimpsonÂ and Olympic championÂ Alistair BrownleeÂ had dominated the first two legs.
Â And with the individual men’s race winner inÂ Hamburg,Â Jonny Brownlee, waiting in the wings a third successive gold medal looked ominous.
Â Stanford had been attempting to extendÂ Britain’s lead when she crashed, following news that the team had been given a 10-second penalty because of Alistair Brownlee’s dismount from the bike.
Â According to the BBC, Stanford was taken to hospital after the crash, but British Triathlon posted on Twitter: “Non is doing ok, thanks for all your concern, we’ll pass on your good wishes to her.”
Â The determined Australians were in the medal mix from the outset when former two-times ITU World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Moffatt had a happier day in the office after her disappointing 22nd place in the individual raced yesterday.
Â She finished the first leg of the four x 300m swim, 6.6km bike and 1.6km run legs in a close-up fourth behind Stimpson, giving Royle every chance of hanging on and the reigning Under 23 ITU World Champion again showed enormous character and determination to maintain Australia’s position â€“ racing just three weeks after being released from hospital following his bout of pneumonia.
Â Gentle, fifth in Saturday’s individual race, was quickly able to catch up what she lost on the swim with a rigorous ride and run but as hard as anchorman Kerr tried he couldn’t pull back the Americans and Kiwis for a podium finish but managed to keep the talented and fast-finishing French team at bay.
Â Teams fromÂ Italy, former championsÂ Switzerland,Â Russia,Â CanadaÂ andÂ JapanÂ all finished behind the Australians.
Â â€œThat was a lot more fun then yesterday!â€ Moffatt wrote on Twitter. â€œWish the teams relay was in Rio and well done to GER,Â NZL,Â USA, very exciting racing!â€
Â It was certainly a vastly improved result on last year from the new look Australian team.
Â â€œThere were doubters before the race about our team but in the end it was a very pleasing and encouraging result forÂ Australia,â€ said High Performance Manager Bernard Savage.
Â â€œThey all did the job and Emma (Moffatt) showed her true form to hit back after her disappointment in the individual race; Aaron (Royle) again showed enormous strength of character; Ash (Gentle) did a great job as did Pete (Kerr).
Â â€œYou are never totally satisfied and a medal would have been nice but where we have come from, we have every reason to be excited about the future that’s for sure.
Â â€œTriathlon is a sport where you don’t get to race in relays all that often and I was very pleased with the way the guys came together as a team; it’s important to take care of your own business first and then the team’s but there was a good feeling in the group and they all enjoyed the event that’s for sure.Â
Â â€œIt’s disappointing (this event) is not in the Olympics but it is in the next Commonwealth Games inÂ GlasgowÂ and we have to be in with a real show for a medal along withÂ EnglandÂ and certainlyÂ New ZealandÂ after their performance today.â€
The Australian contingent will now return to their respective training camps in Spain, France and Switzerland to prepare for the Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup on August 11 before the next round of the WTS Championship in Stockholm (August 24,25) and the ITU World Championship Grand Final in London (September 11-16).
A cyclist, tech geek at heart, a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of the world's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.