AUSTRALIA’S elite triathletes will be hoping the hometown advantage will play a major factor when the ITU World Triathlon Series stops on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Twelve of Australia’s finest ITU triathletes – including Olympic bronze medallists Erin Densham and Emma Moffatt and fellow Olympians Courtney Atkinson and Brendan Sexton will be on show against the best triathletes in the world in the third of the 10 race series.
The women’s race will start at 11 am and the men’s at 2pm in and around the Broadwater Parklands – opposite the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.
Reigning world champions Gwen Jorgensen (USA) and Javier Gomez (ESP) will head line the who’s who in two world class fields.
The women’s field will boast the top 20 triathletes on the current world rankings after the first two rounds of the 10 round WTS in Abu Dhabi and Auckland, while the men’s field has attracted 15 of the top 20 in the world for 2015.
Jorgensen will be joined by fellow American and runner-up in last year’s WTS Sarah True (nee Groff) and the ever present Andrea Hewitt (NZL) while Gomez will be joined by former WTS champion Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) and fellow Spaniard Mario Mola.
The women’s race will feature five Australians and the return of London Olympic bronze medallist Densham who had been forced out of the Auckland race after a training fall from her bike in Campbelltown left her with a badly grazed elbow.
But she is ready to take on this field in the start of what she hopes will see her gain valuable race practice.
Moffatt, after a disappointing start to her season in Abu Dhabi, bounced back over the grueling Auckland course to give herself a huge confidence booster coming into her home race.
Charlotte McShane is the highest ranked Australian after the first two races and she is sitting in eighth, with Moffatt 11th, fellow Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle 32nd and Natalie Van Coevorden 34th.
Gentle knows that the hometown advantage can play a major factor.
“I didn’t have the best of races in Auckland so I’m hoping the energy I’ll get from racing at home will bring out the best in me on Saturday,” said Gentle.
“I have been waiting for this race all season and I can’t wait to get out on the course and hopefully I’ll be able to put together a good race.
“I will have a lot of family and friends come along so it should be an exciting day all round – I can’t wait.”
The men’s race will feature Atkinson, the local two-time Olympian from Beijing and London and his 2012 team mate Sexton, who will be joined by Australia’s highest ranked male from 2014 who is assuming that status this year again in Ryan Bailie as well as his Glasgow Commonwealth Games team mate Dan Wilson, Jesse Featonby, Declan Wilson and Cameron Good.
Bailie too is banking on that extra spur from the crowd.
“I am really looking forward to it; having a WTS race in Australia is really exciting especially after we tour the world racing, it’s nice to have a home race,” said Bailie, who has been Australia’s most consistent male over the past 18 months and is sitting in fifth place behind Brownlee and Spanish trio Gomez, Fernando Alarza and Mola.
“I remember racing on the Gold Coast as an Age Grouper in 2009 when I won the 18/19 years event and it was a great feeling – and the Gold Coast is a great place to race. I’m sure the people will be out in force.”
Bailie, who trains under Jamie Turner in the Wollongong Wizards international group says he is keen to put together a good race in front of the Australian crowd and is confident he has been able to “unlock” his swim.
“I’m not the strongest swimmer in the squad but I have been working at my swimming both in the pool and in the open water,” said Bailie.
“And when it comes to racing it’s a matter of trying to stay out of trouble or having the ability to recover and make amends if things don’t go according to plan.
“The way Jamie prepares us and trains us is a lot of simulated race training so you don’t panic and you are ready for anything.
“The pool where we train has much wider lane ropes with three or four swimmers wide and he can be a case of every man for himself and sometimes it’s on for young and old – which is good race practice.
“I’m probably the worst when it comes to swimming but I’m improving and maybe one day I’ll surprise everyone and come out in front in the swim.”
Bailie knows just how crucial it is not to let the front markers in the swim get up the road.
“It is so important to stay in touch and that’s going to be the key on Saturday,” said Bailie.
The start and finish of Saturday’s race will be at the Broadwater side of the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre with the Olympic distance course covering a 1500m swim (2x750) in the Broadwater); a 40km bike (8 x 5km laps) and 10km run (5 x 2.5km laps).
Gold Coast to focus on triathlon at the Luke Harrop Memorial Race
Running in conjunction with the ITU World Triathlon race on Saturday, Southport will play host to thousands of age group triathletes at the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial on Sunday, 12 April.
There is a distance to suit all tri suits on the line-up; Gold Coast Triathlon, Gold Coast Enticer and one just for the kids – Gold Coast Superkidz Triathlon.
2003 marked the inception of the Gold Coast Triathlon – Luke Harrop Memorial, following the tragic death of Luke Harrop in January 2002, a Gold Coast resident and one of Australia's most respected triathletes. Since then, the Gold Coast Triathlon has grown in stature and has become a must-do event on the race calendar.
In memory of Luke Harrop and in association with the event organisers and Triathlon Australia, the following Junior Athlete Development bursary is awarded to one male and one female Under 23 athlete with the intention of providing the winners with additional funding to progress their development in the sport. Eligible athletes accumulate points across the Noosa Triathlon, Mooloolaba Triathlon and the Gold Coast Triathlon events as these were favourite events of Luke’s.
Race day action for the age group athletes will get underway, at 6.45am on Sunday, at Broadwater Parklands, Southport.
Women: Top 3 from 2014
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) Reigning World Champion
2. Sarah True (USA) nee Groff
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL)
Top 3 in 2015 so far
1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA)
2. Katie Zaferes (USA)
3. Andrea Hewitt (NZL)
7. Charlotte McShane (AUS) Best of Aussies
Men: Top 3 from 2014
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) Reigning world champion - 4 x time World Champion; Olympic silver 2012
2. Mario Mola (ESP)
3. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) Former World Champion; Olympic bronze 2012.
8/10 from 2014 Including Ryan Bailie (AUS) 9th
15/20 from 2015 after first two races
Top 3 in 2015 so far
1. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)
2. Javier Gomez (ESP)
3. Fernando Alarza (ESP)
5. Ryan Bailie (AUS) best of Aussies