Defending World Champions France have reinforced their position as a Mixed Relay Team to watch, as the Australians got their first taste of Tokyo’s Mixed Relay course at the 2019 Tokyo ITU Olympic Qualification Event: Mixed Relay, taking home 5th at Odaiba Park this morning.
Emma Jeffcoat, Matt Hauser, Ashleigh Gentle and Ryan Fisher all took to the course for the Australians, putting together a respectable race that saw the Aussies fight back from 9th place at the end of the first leg to finish in 5th overall in 01:27:40.
However it was Great Britain and France who stole the show, with the final event of the Tokyo Test Event coming down to a nail-biting photo finish between France’s Dorian Coninx and Great Britain’s Alex Yee, with France just edging the Brits out for the win.
Off the back of her third Mixed Relay appearance this season, Gentle said that this morning’s race provided a good opportunity to scope out the course and put her skills to the test in a highly competitive environment.
“It was a good opportunity to do the course that’s going to be set out for Tokyo 2020 next year, so I definitely wanted to take that opportunity and I was pretty grateful that I was picked to do so,” Gentle said.
“It was definitely a tough race and even though we had a couple of days to recover, it’s been a bit of a challenging week just being in Tokyo. It’s not just a normal race.”
“I’m pretty happy with how I raced. I definitely felt a lot better physically and mentally than a couple of days ago in the individual so that’s a big positive.”
Speaking to Triathlon Australia, National Performance Director Justin Drew that said the Test Event provided a great opportunity to test the course and refine tactics ahead of Tokyo 2020.
“It’s been positive to deal with a couple of contingency measures and other matters, and it helps us refine our focus for next year,” Drew said.
Emma Jeffcoat got the Australians off to a strong start in the water, exiting the swim just behind leaders Jess Learmonth (GBR), Summer Rappaport (USA) and Helena Carvalho (POR). With Learmonth and Rappaport quickly setting a blistering pace on the bike and establishing an unwavering lead, Jeffcoat got to work on the bike and the run. Despite fighting hard, Jeffcoat found herself amongst strong runners at the back-end of the first leg, handing over to Hauser in 9th, with Learmonth nearly one minute in front of the main chase group.
With his work cut out for him, Hauser put together a solid swim to join the second chase group on the bike. Teaming up with the likes of Belgium’s Jelle Geens, South Africa’s Henri Schoeman and New Zealand’s Tayler Reid on the bike, Hauser headed out onto the run just 26 seconds behind Britain’s Gordon Benson. Pushing hard to narrow the lead on the run, Hauser tagged Gentle into the race in 8th and 33 seconds off the leaders.
With Italy, USA and France now catching Great Britain to form and maintain a breakaway in the third leg, Gentle needed to put in the hard yards with Brazil and New Zealand on the bike to close the gap. Making her way out onto the run, Gentle continued to edge the Australians closer to the leaders, handing over to Fisher in a confident 5th, with Italy well within their sights.
While Britain’s Alex Yee and France’s Dorian Coninx duelled it out across the final leg for the gold medal, Fisher continued to fight hard for the Australians. Working solo on the bike, Fisher chased down Italy’s Alessandro Fabian just outside of T2 to put the Aussies in a strong position heading onto the final run. Working hard to keep pace with the speedy Italian, Fisher couldn’t quite hold onto him as he sprinted down the finish shoot to claim 5th for the Australians.
2019 ITU Tokyo Qualification Event: Mixed Relay
1st France 01:26:33
2nd Great Britain 01:26:33
3rd USA 01:27:09
4th Italy 01:27:35
5th Australia 01:27:40