It was a successful showcasing of World Triathlon’s brand new format over two exciting days and the action lived up to the occasion, from qualification races the route for 30 men and women on the first start lines.
Birtwhistle finished seventh in the thrilling Elimination format men’s race which saw 30 athletes progress from the qualifiers through to the three-round helter-skelter finals with the dominant French connection the toast of Montreal in the men’s race, seizing a rare trifecta.
After the 300m swim in the men’s final, the 7.2km- bike leg saw all ten remaining finalists come together, the two-kilometre becoming a straight shootout to the tape and with the French Olympians Dorian Coninxwho surging away to take the win from Vincent Luis and Leo Bergere.
Birtwhistle had to work hard on the bike, isolated after the swim and put himself back in the race, and as hard as he tried his tied legs just couldn’t match it with the front runners.
“After successfully making it through all elimination rounds my seventh place was (actually) my best result since 2019,” said Birtwhistle, who knows he needs to get his run back on track, and who raced the Tokyo Olympics with a broken nose (after being kicked in the first race start).
“With 2020 a write off, and this year’s rocky start, I’d love to get in a training block now to get the run back where it should be but with five races in the next six weeks it’s not really possible. But it sure is great to start feeling like a racer again!
“I’m proud to be moving forward, and excited for what’s to come.”
Birtwhistle’s two Tokyo team mates, Newcastle’s Aaron Royle, the Gold Coast’s Matthew Hauser with Kingscliff’s Gold Coast-Based Brandon Copeland finished 16th, 18th and 19th respectively after qualifying through to the top 30.
“(Some) tough…..racing and so good to see this sport continue to grow. Disappointed that I fell short but if you want to succeed at this level, you’ve got to keep throwing your hat in the ring,” said Hauser, who will line up with NSW’s Luke Schofield in the Under 23 World Championship in Edmonton.
In the women’s races, London Olympian Emma Jackson was the best performed of the Australians in 17th, followed by Natalie Van Coevorden (21st), debutant Kira Hedgeland (25th) and sister, Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland 30th.
Meanwhile in today’s Mixed Team Relay, the Australian team of Jackson, Royle, Van Coevorden and Hauser played catch up for the entire race, with Hauser anchoring the Aussies into sixth place with Olympic silver medallists the USA taking the gold ahead of New Zealand and Italy.
Edmonton will feature the Men’s and Women’s Elite Final Championship races and the Under 23 World championships all scheduled for Saturday (from 10pm AEST).
Saturday August 21 (Saturday, August 21, 10pm AEST)
Australian Start Lists Men – Elite: Aaron Royle (NSW), Jake Birtwhistle (TAS), Brandon Copeland (QLD); Under 23: Matt Hauser (QLD), Luke Schofield (NSW). Women – Elite: Emma Jackson (QLD), Jaz Hedgeland (WA), Natalie Van Coevorden (NSW), Charlotte McShane (NSW), Kelly Ann Perkins (QLD); Under 23: Kira Hedgeland (WA).