Aaron Royle and Ashleigh Gentle lived up to expectations today, both coming into Noosa Triathlon as pre race favourites, and both claiming victory in what proved to be tight racing in both the mens and women’s professional fields.
Aaron Royle led the lead pack out of the water, but it was Casey Munro who stamped his foot down on the bike, to lead into transition two with a nice little lead. It wasn’t evident until the run however that Munro had a 4 minute penalty to serve. The ITU stars stormed through with Aaron Royle, Peter Kerr, Dan Wilson, Ryan Bailie and Cam Good taking the lead by the 3km mark.
The final KM’s saw Kerr and Good falling off the pace, and with the crowds heart in their throats Royle, Wilson and Bailie began to wind up the speed for a sprint finish of not two, but three athletes! 200m out the men were shoulder to shoulder, but it was Royle that pulled clear to take the win over Wilson, with Bailie crossing in third.
The women’s race, whilst not quite as close in the finish straight, was equally exciting with long course Swiss Miss Caroline Steffen showing some incredible speed on the 10km run course today. Steffen was first off the bike today, joined by eventual winner Ashleigh Gentle, Nicky Samuels and Liz Blatchford.
Paula Findlay, on comeback from injury and not yet accustomed to riding her TT bike (a Specialized Shiv), started the run a little down on the front four. Although once onto the run course it was all business as Findlay quickly Â climbed her way into second, proving her run is heading back towards previous race winning form.
Having won the event in 2012, finished runner up to non-starter Emma Moffatt in 2013 (Moffatt withdrew due to a calf injury this week), Gentle ran her way to victory today, and unlike the men, was unchallenged in the finish chute. However Findlay wasn’t far back, finishing second only 48 seconds later. Long course specialist Steffen, still recovering off Kona, lay down some impressive speed on the run to finish in 3rd only 31 seconds behind Findlay. Steffen couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she jogged the final 200m, giving high fives all round as she ran down the final stretch.