Ashleigh Gentle and Luke Willian have opened their 2020 racing accounts in style, roaring home to take home bronze medals and valuable Olympic qualification points at the 2020 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup.
Among a world class field, Ashleigh Gentle outsprinted her competitors to take home bronze in Mooloolaba behind two-time Olympian Vicky Holland (GBR) and World Triathlon Series regular Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR).
Finding herself positioned towards the back of the field off the bike, Gentle wasted no time in getting to work, moving her way up through the field in the first two laps. Battling it out against Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Elizabeth Bravo (ECU) the Brisbane-based triathlete proved too strong, sprinting away to bronze.
“Mooloolaba is always a tough little course and first race of the season, definitely felt it out there,” Gentle said.
“I’m really happy with how I ended up executing most parts of the race.”
“By the end of the bike, I was trying to push up on the hill but I was pretty tired from that 20km, so unfortunately I kind of got swallowed up and didn’t have much to give…but I’m really happy that I could sprint away for third.”
With a strong swim from across the field, Gentle, Emma Jeffcoat, Gillian Backhouse, Jaz Hedgeland, Natalie Van Coevorden, Kira Hedgeland, Danielle de Francesco and Kelly-Ann Perkins all secured themselves strong positions amongst the action on the bike.
Maintaining position through the 20km course, it seemed the Australians would be fighting it out for podium positions with their international rivals on the run.
Holland and Taylor-Brown put their experience on show, with the Brits sprinting away early on in the run to cement their positions on top of the podium.
Battling it out with Hewitt and Bravo, Gentle and Jeffcoat fought hard until the end, with the pair sprinting into 3rd and 6th respectively.
Jaz Hedgeland, Natalie Van Coevorden and Kira Hedgeland put together strong performances to take out 11th, 16th and 21st.
Gillian Backhouse, Tamsyn Moana-Veale and Kelly-Ann Perkins ran their way into 25th, 26th and 27th. While Danielle de Francesco and Charlotte McShane finished in 34th and 38th, respectively.
Luke Willian turned up the heat in the Elite Men’s race to take home bronze behind New Zealand’s Ryan Sissons and Hayden Wilde.
Pushing hard through the entire run, Willian put the hammer down in the final stretch to break away from his competitors and take third in front of a roaring Mooloolaba crowd.
Speaking to ITU Media, Willian said that he felt satisfied with the result after giving his all during the race.
“It’s really nice to be back here,” Willian said.
“It’s good to be back on the podium after winning in 2017. I would’ve liked to be there today but the boys up front were moving and I just couldn’t quite close the gap at the end.”
“I just tried to go as hard as I could that last 400m. My mates were on the corner…they were just screaming at me and I’m like ‘C’mon, we gotta go here.’.
With the winds picking up in the afternoon, the Men’s field was forced to stay compact through the swim and the bike, making for a fiery foot race for podium positions.
Capitalising on great positioning, Queensland’s Matt Hauser took an early lead. However, with a strong group of seven slowly bridging the gap behind him, it wasn’t long before the Queenslander found himself caught by Willian, as well as New Zealand’s Sissons and Wilde and fighting to stay in front.
Attacking off the front with less than a lap to go, the Kiwis made their move to claim to line honours, leaving Willian to charge home to bronze ahead of Great Britain’s Ben Dijkstra.
Hauser came home strong to take 8th in a confidence-boosting Top 10 finish.
Ryan Bailie’s experience shone through on the run with the 2016 Rio Olympian running himself into a respectable 16th.
Matt Roberts, Marcel Walkington, Brandon Copeland, and Luke Burns took out 25th, 29th, 30th and 32nd, respectively. While Lorcan Redmond and Callum McClusky finished 41st and 42nd.
2020 Mooloolaba ITU World Cup
3rd – Ashleigh Gentle
6th – Emma Jeffcoat
11th – Jaz Hedgeland
16th – Natalie Van Coevorden
21st – Kira Hedgeland
25th – Gillian Backhouse
26th – Tamsyn Moana-Veale
27th – Kelly-Ann Perkins
34th – Danielle De Francesco
38th – Charlotte McShane
3rd – Luke Willian
8th – Matthew Hauser
16th – Ryan Bailie
25th – Matt Roberts
29th – Marcel Walkington
30th – Brandon Copeland
32nd – Luke Burns
41st – Lorcan Redmond
42nd – Callum McClusky