With warm and windy conditions bearing down on Tokyo, the Australian Men had their first taste of what the 2020 Tokyo Olympics might bring at this morning’s 2019 Tokyo Olympic Qualification Event in Odaiba Park.
Battling an aggressive swim start and a demanding bike leg in gusty conditions, it wasn’t quite the race number one seed Jake Birtwhistle had hoped for.
Speaking to Triathlon Australia, Birtwhistle said that the unexpected change in conditions from hot and humid to warm and windy proved to be the biggest factor in his result today.
“So finishing 11th, it’s pretty disappointing,” Birtwhistle said.
“Everyone has a lot on the line here, so it was definitely one of the most aggressive swims [I’ve had].”
“We got out of the water and onto the bike, and thankfully I had a couple of other strong riders that were willing to do a bit of work to get up to the front. I got there and stayed safe which was a big tick on this course, obviously quite challenging and demanding.”
“Then onto the run and that’s where I made the mistake of treating today’s conditions like what we trained for, what we expected, thinking it was going to be super hot and humid and that’s what not we had today. I started off a bit conservatively and in doing so just put myself out of the race.”
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get the automatic selection which is what we were here to do, but we’ll move on to the next race in a couple of weeks in the Grand Final…and plan to obviously be here in 12 months regardless of not getting selection today,”
“Our preparations I think are pretty sound. Obviously it’s not the result we came here for but I think we did all the right things and we’ll be able to debrief after this weekend and iron out a few kinks.”
Exiting a tough swim in 38th position and significantly back from the lead pack, Birtwhistle found himself needing to work hard on the bike to make up ground if he was to have a chance at a medal position.
With the technicality of the Tokyo course on full show, Birtwhistle put in the work to quickly make up ground and hit the lead pack early on in the bike leg. There, the Tasmanian found himself in good company, with fellow Australians Matt Hauser, Ryan Fisher and Luke Willian right on his tail heading into T2.
However with the tough conditions and a world-class field in full force, it wasn’t meant to be for the Australians with Birtwhistle, Fisher, Willian and Hauser running home to 11th, 18th, 21st and 30th, respectively. While Aaron Royle took home 38th after a difficult race that saw him lose momentum on the bike and dropped from the lead pack following a minor crash in front of him.
In a dynamic and challenging race that saw big leading packs and much of the field in close contact, it came down to another thrilling sprint finish for the Tokyo Test Event.
After positioning themselves well out of a crowded bike leg, Tyler Mislawchuck (CAN), Casper Stornes (NOR) and Hayden Wilde (NZL) wasted no time in establishing a cracking pace on the run and setting their agenda for a captivating sprint finish.
Going toe-to-toe nearly the entire 10kms, the trio pushed the pace leaving fan favourites Jonathan Brownlee, Jelle Geens and Jonas Schomburg in their wake.
After dropping Wilde with only several hundred metres to go, Mislawchuck threw down the hammer to overcome a threatening Stornes and sprint home to secure the win on the 2020 Olympic course. While New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde claimed bronze following a mature and tactical race from the 22-year old.
The Australians will now turn their focus towards Sunday’s Mixed Relay Test Event, following tomorrow’s Paralympic World Cup racing.
2019 Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Event Results
11th Jake Birtwhistle 01:51:02
18th Ryan Fisher 01:52:13
21st Luke Willian 01:52:37
30th Matt Hauser 01:53:44
38th Aaron Royle 01:55:44