Fresh from winning the Nepean Triathlon, Ashleigh Gentle chats to Trizone about the race and how she feels heading into Noosa 2016.
Ashleigh Gentle wins Nepean Triathlon 2016
“It was a lot colder than usual at Nepean,” Ashleigh Gentle recalls, chatting from the boarding gate on her way to Noosa. Multi-tasking from the airport is the perfect representation of Ashleigh’s jam-packed year, from a busy ITU circuit to the Rio Olympics, and now finally back to Australia for the country’s iconic races.
“This has been a very long year,” Ashleigh told the Courier Mail, “Quite physically and emotionally draining.” Gentle finished 26th in Rio, after having her bike go missing for five days before the Olympics. But she had impressive second placings in multiple ITU events throughout the year. After such a big year, she was thrilled with her win at Nepean.
“I had a good swim,” she recalls. “Five of us came in together, including Nicky Samuels and Natalie Van Coevorden. They’re great swimmers and they set the pace pretty fast.”
A bad transition threatens Gentle’s Nepean position
Finishing the swim in the lead pack, Ashleigh was confident but a poor transition looked set to threaten her position. “My transition was terrible,” she says. “I came in with everyone at T1, but I was behind the eight-ball coming out.”
Without losing focus though, Ashleigh set her sights on a strong bike race. “I stayed patient and relaxed, and caught up to the girls,” she adds. “I wanted to try and get to the front and create a gap on the bike.”
Creating a substantial gap by the top of the hill, Ashleigh was feeling strong. “I saw Nicky was behind me, with another gap to Natalie, then another gap back to Charlotte,” she says. “I knew I needed to push the pace back to the regatta centre.”
While riding into the wind was tricky, Ashleigh maintained an awareness of where the competing girls and the guys were in the field. “By the time I got to T2, I had 60 seconds between me and the next girl,” she adds. “I knew I could use that gap to my advantage on the run. I just really enjoyed the race. I was really pleased with the way it went.”
Ashleigh Gentle finished in first place, with a time of 1:37:51 and ahead of Natalie Van Coevorden at 01:38:28.
“I love doing Nepean as a stand-alone event of course, but it’s also a great race to do going into Noosa,” notes Ashleigh. “You can really push it, just like you would in the last training session before a race. It’s great preparation for Noosa.”
Will Ashleigh Gentle win Noosa 3 years in a row?
Like other Aussie athletes heading to Noosa next weekend, the iconic event is one of Ashleigh’s favourites. “I enjoy that I can come home and be in Queensland,” she sights. “To have this race at the end of the year; it’s like celebrating the year that’s just been.”
Noosa is not only set at one of Australia’s most picturesque beaches but the town has a unique buzz all the athletes love. The fun atmosphere is a welcome change to many of the other places they race.
“We travel so much and compete in high-pressure races all over the world and then you get to Noosa which has a really special atmosphere,” Gentle told the Courier Mail.
Despite winning the Noosa Tri in 2014 and 2015, she remains humble. “It’s so special [that] family and friends can be there and watch me,” says Ashleigh. “As athletes, we get to see the legends who have won the race in the past, mingle and chat to them. That’s pretty special. There are amazing Australian champions, the fact we get to see them at the Noosa Tri is really great.”
Another Olympics in Gentle’s sights
After relishing the experience of Rio 2016, Gentle would love to be in Tokyo in 2020. However, an interest in 70.3 is also creeping in. “I’m definitely interested in it,” she adds. “I’d love to give it a go.”
Before deciding on her plan for 2017 though, with just a week till the Noosa Triathlon we predict Ashleigh Gentle may take out the win again this year.
Check back into Trizone for updates on Noosa throughout the week, and our race summary right after the race.