Defending champion Ashleigh Gentle continues to write herself into the history of the Noosa Triathlon notching up her sixth overall win at the iconic Sunshine Coast event, equalling the record of legend Craig Walton
Gentle used her sensational foot speed to wrestle the lead from the trio of Natalie van Coevorden, Annabel Luxford and Radka Kahlefeldt, to extended her run of consecutive Noosa wins to five.
“It took ages to put a dent into the lead girls on the run and it was only at 3km that I started to notice that I was creeping up on them. Before I caught them I was thinking ‘Should I sit behind and save myself and try and go around and it was, nup, it is the last race of the season it is all in. Just go around and see if you can hold on’.”
“I had so much doubt before the race. The sensational Gold Coast race was seven weeks ago and I had to try and hold as much fitness as I could. I found it difficult, but in saying that finishing the year here in Noosa means a lot to me. Each win here has had its own challenge. Today I had a terrible swim and I made it hard for myself because I had to work hard on that bike and reel in the lead three girls because I knew Natalie, Annabel and Radka would be working well together. I had to block that out of my mind and just ride my own race and thankfully I pulled back enough time to put myself back in the game.”
“I think it is relief to win today but I think I say that every year. It is always a long season but I am always motivated to be as fit as I can be when I come to Noosa. To win my sixth title probably won’t sink in until this time next year. I feel as though I have a few more Noosa left in me, so I will be back.”
“I will now go and celebrate with Liz Blatchford, it was her last race today and she has been a great inspiration and a great friend of mine and I know being here means a lot to her. Then I will just enjoy being in Noosa with my family and friends,” Gentle said.
Natalie van Coevorden has book ended her season with another intense sprint finish, this time holding out Radka Kahlefeldt my millimetres in a desperate dash for the line.
“The sprint finish in Abu Dhabi has set the tone for the rest of the year. It is an exciting way to end the race and it adds a bit of tension to the back end. I have had a really good year training with Ash we have really pushed each other to get the most out of what we’ve got. This is a key race and one day I would like to come back and get that top spot,” Natalie said.
Aaron Royle has made it three Noosa Triathlon wins from four starts but the Rio Olympian admitted he was literally running on empty when he hit the finish line only metres ahead of a charging Max Neumann.
“I am absolutely spent. I push as hard as I ever have today. I don’t think I have ever hurt as much as I did in that last couple of kms. I was getting time gaps and with 2km to go I thought I was going to get caught or might not even get to the finish line. My legs started to give way and I started to cramp.”
“That is how bad I was feeling in that last bit but I dug deep and ticked off the metres as they got a bit closer. I knew they were coming from behind and when I saw that last bridge I thought just give it everything because it is either now or never. If I let Max back into the race and onto my shoulder it would be tough to get around him.”
“Literally it was the crowd out there today that got me to the finish line I was in all sorts of trouble. As I am getting older the wins are getting harder to come by so you have to celebrate the good ones,” Aaron said.
Aaron now draws equal with Courtney Atkinson with three Noosa titles to his credit.
“My ITU season was a bit rough and up and down but this is a nice way to finish. Racing Nepean before Noosa has been successful in the past. It was a good sharpen up and great to get two wins in two weeks but I did feel the Nepean win in my legs late in the race. This is three wins and a second here in Noosa now. This Noosa race is an amazing event. You just have to look around with the thousands of athletes and thousands of spectators on course, it one you want to win. To do it three times is more than I would ever have imagined, so I am over the moon,” he said.
Second place Max Neumann from Brisbane was delighted with his podium finish and his continued improvement throughout 2018.
“I played it really conservatively on the ride and Ryan Fisher and Bailie were working the bike and all credit to them for keeping me in the race. I came off the bike a bit fresher than those two so I had quite good legs on the run. I just couldn’t quite get Aaron he had too good a day and full credit to him. I am pretty happy that result and hopefully I can improve on that in the coming years,” he said.
1 Ashleigh Gentle 02:00:48 00:22:03 01:00:14 00:35:14
2 Natalie Van Coevorden 02:01:38 00:20:51 01:00:53 00:36:37
3 Radka Kahlefeldt 02:01:38 00:21:00 01:00:39 00:36:41
1 Aaron Royle 01:48:51 00:18:16 00:54:30 00:33:01
2 Max Neumann 01:48:54 00:19:05 00:54:42 00:32:10
3 Ryan Bailie 01:49:05 00:19:04 00:54:35 00:32:32