Australia’s leading male triathlete Aaron Royle is developing his own career path as he rubs shoulders with arguably some of the sport’s all-time greats.
The 24-year-old is one of six Australians who will line up in Saturday’s Elite Men’s race in round three of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Yokohama and he is determined to continue doing it his way.
Royle is sitting third on the ITU Rankings behind Spain’s Javier Gomez and Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee after the first two races, but Royle isn’t getting carried away.
“To be honest if I was to finish third in the Series at the end of the year I’d be happy, but right now I am just looking at each race as it comes,” says Royle
“It really is a long year until the WTS Grand Final in Edmonton so I can’t get too far ahead of myself.”
Already Gomez and Brownlee have cleared out from the pack with 2012 Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee making his comeback to racing in Yokohama.
“I race the way I need to, to be able to perform. Sometimes that coincides with the way they want to race as well,” says the Newcastle-born Wollongong Wizard.
“There’s been times when they have praised me and there’s been times when they have criticised the way I raced. I’ll continue to race the way I need to, so I can continue to improve.”
Royle also admits he has learnt a lot about himself this year.
“It maybe a bit cliché but you are always learning and this year has been no different,” says Royle.
“I had a few hiccups early in the year with injuries and so we are always looking at better ways to manage our bodies in the early months and recovery is very important.
“Our coach Jamie Turner does a good job making sure we are given sufficient recovery before we step into any quality training.
“With the amount of races and travel that we’ve had and still have in the next few weeks makes recovery so important.”
The men’s race will see Royle joined by fellow Commonwealth Games representatives Dan Wilson and Ryan Bailie with fellow Australians Declan Wilson, Cameron Goode and Ryan Fisher, giving the Aussies a strong presence among the 60 plus international field.
Wilson and Bailie joined Royle in an eye-catching final 5km in Auckland with the Australians finishing third (Royle), fourth (Wilson) and fifth (Bailie).
It was a red-letter day for the Australians, who will be out in force again, flying a men’s flag that is starting to mix it with the world’s best.
And what has Royle learnt about Gomez and Brownlee this year?
“That they are consistent…..they are strong both physically and mentally and (they) love to win!”
MOFFATT ON FAVOURITE STOMPING GROUND
All athletes have their favourite courses and for Emma Moffatt, Hamburg and Yokohama continue to ring true for the former two-time ITU World Champion and two-time Olympian.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist will take her place in Saturday’s third round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in the Japan’s second largest city outside the capital and 2020 Olympic host city Tokyo.
And it is fitting that the opening race in the 2016 Olympic qualification period for Rio de Janeiro is Saturday’s WTS round in Yokohama.“That fact had escaped me…but it doesn’t take long for the next Olympic period to role around and knowing that fact adds even more importance to Saturday’s race,” said Moffatt, who flew into Yokohama yesterday from Brisbane, via Cairns.
“It is important to get amongst the points for Rio early so Australia can qualify our three places for the next Olympics.
“I hope it’s hot and humid – that would certainly suit me over a flat course where I have had a podium finish every time I’ve been here.
“It reminds me very much of Hamburg and that is one of my favourite races.”
Moffatt, pre-selected for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, would love nothing better than to keep her podium places in tact but also knows that every race on the WTS circuit attracts a red hot field.
Joining her fellow Australians, Olympic and recently announced Glasgow team mate Emma Jackson and 2012 Under 23 ITU World Champion Charlotte McShane, will be Great Britain’s world ranked number one Jodie Stimpson and the USA’s ever-present Gwen Jorgensen, the defending Yokohama champion, who has already unleashed her amazing run legs this season.
Moffatt is currently sitting in sixth on the overall rankings after Auckland and Cape Town with Jackson in eighth, the only two Australians in the top ten.ITU Womens preview
STORIES TO WATCH FOR:
The podium returns
All of the 2013 Yokohama medallists will return to their spot of glory this year for another shot at important points towards the Threadneedle rankings. Last year Gwen Jorgensen (USA) collected her second consecutive career WTS win with her signature fiery run across the flat course. Behind her,Emma Moffatt (AUS) and Jodie Stimpson (GBR) gutted it out over the blue carpet with a smiling Moffatt just edging out the Brit.
The Gomez vs Brownlees facts
In the last 20 times that Javier Gomez and Alistair Brownlee have met at WTS races, Alistair has won on 15 of those occasions. But that was then and this is now. Gomez is not waiting to make a move in the Threadneedle rankings, having destroyed the competition, including younger Brownlee brother Jonathan, in the last two WTS events. But as we saw last year in San Diego when Alistair charged away from the competition for the win, missing the first few races of the season has no impact on his ability to win.
PREVIOUS YOKOHAMA WINNERS
2013 Gwen Jorgensen (USA) Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)
2012 Lisa Norden (SWE) Joao Silva (POR)
2011 Andrea Hewitt (NZL) Joao Silva (POR)
2009 Lisa Norden (SWE) Jan Frodeno (GER)