Australia’s triathletes have combined to produce a sterling performance to win silver behind the strong French team in an exciting Mixed Teams Relay World Championship in Hamburg today.
The Australian team of Gillian Backhouse, Aaron Royle, Emma Jackson, and Ryan Bailie combined to deliver Australia their best performance yet in this exciting format of the sport - an event that is pushing for inclusion on the Olympic games programme in 2020.
Hamburg proved a happy hunting ground for Royle in his return to the racing circuit, finishing fifth in the individual race on Saturday and securing a silver medal in the relay.
“It was awesome, the last two years we have finished fourth, so it’s nice to get the monkey off our back and get back on the podium,” Royle said.
While Jackson chimed in with: “We love competing and trying to get on the podium. It’s always a fun event, and always good to be on the podium with teammates.”
Baillie put in a top class performance as the anchor for the team.
“The Germans’ just go mental for a triathlon and was great to put on a show in front of them. The team did great,” Bailie said.
“It’s great to wear the green and gold at a World Championship.”
Triathlon Australia’s National Performance Director Bernard Savage praised his team, saying there were again some very encouraging signs for the Rio Test event on August 2.
“It was a good result for all four athletes - they did all they needed to do and kept us in the position to challenge for the two major medals,” Savage said.
“Gillian set us up well, everyone played their part, I’m really happy for them.”
Hamburg threw up cooler temperatures with light rain making for slippery conditions on the bike as 17 teams contested the Mixed Relay World Championships.
With each team member required to complete a 300m swim, 6.6km bike, and 1.6km run, at a fast and furious pace from start to finish, thrilling the massive crowds that turned out.
The Australians went into the event with a clear tactical strategy, which paid dividends. Backhouse who produced her best ever performance at a WTS race in the individual sprint, finishing 12th, led off.
Her strong swim/bike combination saw her hand over to Royle in third place, but not for long.
Royle covered the 300m swim like a man possessed to catch the leaders and come out of the water with Germany and Great Britain.
This trio broke well clear on the bike, and by the end of the second leg Royle tagged Jackson in second place.
Jackson, working her way back into top form after returning from injury put in a solid performance to finish 19th in the individual sprint race and secure her place in the relay team.
The London Olympian kept the team en route to the podium at the final changeover, tagging Bailie in second place.
Mark Buckingham (GBR) had a 12 second advantage heading into the final swim leg.
Bailie, Luis and Buchholz easily closed the gap on the 300m swim.
But it was yesterday’s WTS Hamburg Champion Vincent Luis (FRA) who led out onto the bike, closely followed by Buckingham.
Bailie struggled in transition and came out with Gregor Buchholz of Germany, who would have to serve a 10sec penalty for a previous transition infraction.
Baillie quickly made up the gap pulling Buchholz up with him as all four came together, and would see it all come down to the final 1.6km run.
Luis was first out onto the run, Baillie rising to the occasion sticking with Luis in the early stages, and quickly dropping Buckingham and Buchholz.
But in the end Luis had too much foot speed over the final lap for Baillie and delivered his second win in two days for France.
Baillie was simply brilliant, anchoring the team to a well-deserved silver medal.
Great Britain grabbed bronze with Germany settling for fourth after serving the 10sec penalty.
On the Rio Test Event, Savage said: “Everything is moving along very positively for the team and athletes ahead of the first Olympic qualifying event for Rio on August 2.
“I’m not reading a great deal into the performances of the athletes yesterday as they are all in various stages of preparation for the event.
“They can all take key learnings and process some processes to work on over the next two weeks.
“We’re all looking forward to going over, it’s the first time in Rio for most of the team and will be good to get a feel for the course and city and make the build up to the games a reality.
“There is a bit riding on it for the athletes but it’s not the only opportunity to qualify,” added Savage.
2015 Mixed Teams Relay, Hamburg, FINAL:
1. France 1.20.33
2. Australia 1.20.42
3. Great Britain 1.20.52
4. Germany 1.21.00
5. Russia 1.21.51
6. Hungary 1.21.59
7. United States 1.22.05
8. Spain 1.22.12
9. New Zealand 1.22.18
10. Denmark 1.22.30