Aaron Royle, Ryan Fisher and Ryan Bailie have thrown down some of their most aggressive racing to date at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland overnight to finish 16th, 17th and 18th.
Negotiating what was arguably the toughest course of the World Triathlon Series this season, the Australians made their intentions clear from the outset.
Attacking hard throughout the swim and bike, including a solo attack on the bike off the front from a determined Fisher, the Australians did their best to make an impact on the field as they approached the final leg of the race.
Coming out of T2 Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Mario Mola (ESP), Fernando Alarza (ESP), Vincent Luis (FRA), Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) and Casper Stornes (NOR) found a new gear, taking the race intensity up a notch. The Aussies did their best on the fast and scenic run course, with Royle, Bailie and Fisher holding on to snag finishes inside the Top 20.
After an impressive swim and a tactical bike leg, Jake Birtwhistle found himself in trouble on the run, pushing through to claim 26th. Despite a less than ideal result for the Tasmanian, Birtwhistle secured himself an honourable sixth place in the overall 2019 World Triathlon Series Rankings for 2019 in an outstanding season from the 24 year old that saw him claim two Series wins, including his maiden title in Leeds earlier this year.
Luke Willian withdrew from the race during the run.
The Australian Women put their skills to the test in a highly challenging and demanding Grand Final, with Ashleigh Gentle and Jaz Hedgeland topping the results for the Australians with 22nd and 25th, respectively.
In a Grand Final that saw the expected key players dominate from the outset, Jess Learmonth set the tone for the race from the horn, pushing a cracking pace in the swim to stretch out the field heading into T1. With Zaferes, Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), Flora Duffy (BER) and Vittoria Lopes (BRA) holding a dominant lead throughout the bike, it all came down to a sprint finish between Learmonth and Zaferes.
Going shoulder-to-shoulder nearly the entire 10km run leg, Zaferes made her move at the title in the final few hundred metres, successfully gapping Learmonth and securing Grand Final line honours as well as the overall 2019 World Triathlon Series title.
A tough swim leg for Gentle and Hedgeland saw the pair fight hard to improve their position on the bike. With the leading pack pushing on further and further ahead, the pair worked their way up through the field before holding steady on the run to take an honourable 22nd and 25th.
Despite a stellar swim from Natalie Van Coevorden and Emma Jackson, the duo found themselves stretched to their limits on the physically demanding course. Van Coevorden pushed through a mechanical issue on the bike to take 40th. Jackson withdrew on the run.
Charlotte McShane worked hard to recover ground after difficult swim and challenging bike leg, finishing in 42nd.
ITU World Triathlon Grand Final
16th Aaron Royle
17th Ryan Fisher
18th Ryan Bailie
26th Jake Birtwhistle
DNF Luke Willian
22nd Ashleigh Gentle
25th Jaz Hedgeland
40th Natalie Van Coevorden
42nd Charlotte McShane
DNF Emma Jackson
Photo Credit: Korupt Vision | Triathlon Australia