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Jacob Birtwhistle, Ashleigh Gentle win Atmosphere Nepean Triathlon 2016

Jacob Birtwhistle and Ashleigh Gentle have taken out the 2016 Atmosphere Nepean Triathlon titles. After breaking away with Ryan Bailie on the bike, Birtwhistle took until half way in the run before he was able to start cementing his hold on the race.

Birtwhistle was joint favourite with Bailie before the race, with Bailie running exceptionally well and leading. It was thought that he may just have the edge. But obviously this is not what Birtwhistle had planned. “It was pretty bunched up out of the water and then the bike was on right from the start,” he said. “I had been riding really well in training so wanted to get a gap on the bike, obviously Bailie had the same plan though! I’m not sure what the gap was after the bike but the two of us were clear. We ran together for the first 5k and then starting the second lap I was able to put a gap in to him and ran solo to the finish.”

Not far behind the pair were the two other athletes capable of going sub 32min or close to it. David Mainwaring had the potential to ride strongly and limit the damage Bailie and Birtwhistle would do on the swim. “There was a lead pack of about 10 guys with myself and few others 20 secs behind as we exited the water,” added Mainwaring. “Onto the bike Bailie attacked straight away. He and Birtwhistle got a gap on the bunch. I started riding through the front swimmers who were scattered along the road (no real group) until about 8 km in where I got into 3rd place. Bailie was leading the whole way with Birtwhistle and they were putting some time into Strutta (4th placed James Davy) and I who were in turn putting time into the rest of the field for the remainder of the ride.”

“Before starting the race today I was unsure how I would perform after competing in the elite energy Forster race last weekend,” said Davy. “The swim went well, I felt comfortable and managed to get myself in the front pack. I had a bit of trouble getting my helmet on in T1 which meant I was near the back of the front pack getting onto my bike.”

“Bailey and Birtwhistle went hard from the start and got around a 15 second lead heading out of the Regatta Centre,” continued Davey. “I tried to bridge across but was unable to catch up. Mainwaring came past leading the chase pack so I positioned myself behind him. The cross winds made it difficult on the bike. I was able to hold onto Mainwaring and we put time into the chase pack behind which had also split up. Getting off the bike with Mainwaring I knew I had to try run my own pace and not go out too hard. Mainwaring was running in front of me and looked good. I found that 5th position was not gaining on me at the half way point. The legs starting getting tight the last 3km in the run but I was able to hold a strong pace to finish the race in 4th overall. I was really happy with how the race went today and looking forward to racing next at Western Sydney 70.3.”

Onto the run, Mainwaring slowly extended the gap to Davy – who finished second in the Forster Half triathlon last weekend – for the rest of the run. “Bailie started suffering a bit with a calf issue and I started to get close with 2 km to go but he kicked away again over the last few kms,” he noted. It was cold morning with some decent winds around. “On the bike there were a fair bit of crosswinds which made it bit more interesting.”

In the women’s race there was a strong pack of five swimmers who all exited the water together. Kiwi Nicky Samuels, Natalie Van Coevorden, Charlotte McShane, Tamsyn Moana-Veale and Ashleigh Gentle all led into the first transition. T1 caused a bit of havoc with the eventual winner Ashleigh Gentle having a self confessed “shocker!”

On to the bike, though, Gentle was able to settle and start asserting herself on to the race. “I was patient at the start of the bike although made my way to the front rather early to try and create a gap,” she said. “I was really happy with my ride and came off with a fairly comfortable lead. Thankfully this took some of the pressure out of the run and after I got a split after lap 1 of the run, I had enough space to dial the pace down and relax a bit with the handicap for next year and Noosa Tri in mind. I was so glad to be back and they put on another great race at Nepean Tri :)”.

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Second place Natalie Van Coevorden took advantage of a bit of local knowledge to get to know her non-drafting bike once again. “I have had some opportunities over the past few weeks to get a good feel for my TT bike with a few local club races,” she said. “I was confident in the training I was doing over the past month and was keen to give it a good crack. I am not sure where summer has gone with Penrith being a balmy 9 degrees this morning!”

This was the first time in the 6 years that the pros had a wetsuit swim. “The swim is hard to break up when the field is so small. I lead out of the swim with Nicky Samuels and we had a group of 5 of us out of the water,” she added. “I found it really hard to push the whole bike as I was so frozen and the crosswinds were making it really hard. Ashleigh and Nicky went up the road on me about half way through the bike. I was just trying to concentrate on the present moment and that the race isn’t over till it’s over.”

With about 5km to go on the ride Natalie could see Nicky just up the road. “With Nicky in sight I kept ticking away and caught her with about 2km to go,” she said. “Ashleigh had a minute on me off the bike and I knew that Charlotte and Nicky were both good runners coming from behind. It was honestly the best feeling after 5km that my feet didn’t feel like concrete blocks! I just kept ticking away and I was happy to keep a solid margin to get 2nd place for the day. A week of recovery and  a bit of speed before Noosa next weekend.”


Jacob Birtwhistle 1:30:03
Ryan Bailie 1:30:49
David Mainwaring 1:31:13


Ashleigh Gentle 1:37:51
Natalie Van Coevorden 1:38:28
Charlotte McShane 1:41:59