A commanding squad of 24 Aussies are set to take it to some of the world’s best triathletes this weekend as they prepare to put their best racing forward at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Lausanne.
Featured amongst the impressive squad which includes past Junior, U23 and Elite World Champions is Tasmanian Jake Birtwhistle as he hunts for not only the World Championship title on offer, but an overall World Triathlon Series (WTS) podium position.
After reaching new heights in the 2019 season and claiming two successive WTS titles, Birtwhistle is aiming to recreate the magic from his maiden win in Leeds on Lausanne’s Standard distance course.
“I am feeling pretty good since racing in Tokyo,” Birtwhistle said.
“Lausanne looks to be a really tough course which I am excited about, with two tough hills on the bike this event is going to favour someone strong, who can roll with the punches on the bike and still get off and run a solid 10k.”
“Sitting in 5th on the world rankings is not where I wanted to be, but this year has presented some solid ups and downs in terms of results so to be going into the final event with a shot at the podium is still very motivating for me.”
“I’ll have no choice but to leave it all out on the course on Saturday to give myself every chance to make that happen.”
Aaron Royle and Ryan Fisher will be joining Birtwhistle on the starting line, off the back of challenging international seasons that saw both athletes breakthrough for Top 20 finishes at various points in the Series. Ryan Bailie and Luke Willian will also take to the starting line for the Elite Men.
With a total 67 starters in Lausanne and names including previous World, Olympic and Commonwealth champions, the Elite Men’s competition is shaping up to be the most competitive race of the season. Series Leader Vincent Luis (FRA), consistent Spanish trio Mario Mola, Javier Gomez Noya and Fernando Alarza, and Tokyo Test Event winner Tyler Mislawchuck (CAN) are all contenders to be in the mix for top honours. While Marten Val Riel (NED), Henri Schoeman (RSA), Hayden Wilde (NZL), and Jelle Geens (BEL) are not to be counted out as possibilities to claim the World Championship title either.
2018 Grand Final winner Ashleigh Gentle said her sights are still on the prize in the Elite Women’s event, despite a challenging season that saw her unable to find her rhythm during WTS racing.
Speaking to Triathlon Australia, Gentle said that while the season hasn’t gone her way, she’s lining up with every chance to walk away a winner.
“The Lausanne bike course is certainly quite demanding with two significant hills each lap, but I think this can be an advantage for me,” Gentle said.
“I’m coming into another Grand Final with very little pressure. I’m too far out of the points to be in the mix for the overall title, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t motivated from my Grand Final win last year. I’m on the start line, so I have a chance.”
Emma Jackson will be aiming to finish her 2019 WTS season on a high after a breakthrough season that saw the Queenslander return to form following several years of injury. With a win in Edmonton marking a turning point in the 28-year old’s season, there is little doubt Jackson will be hunting for her first Top 10 finish at a Grand Final since 2013.
Jaz Hedgeland will cap off her breakout 2019 season with her Elite Grand Final debut in Lausanne this weekend. Off the back of a stellar 9th and 7th place finish in Montreal and Edmonton, Hedgeland will be chasing another Top 10 Grand Final finish to end her season on a high note.
Charlotte McShane will make her 8th consecutive WTS Grand Final appearance, after taking home 19th on the Gold Coast in 2018. While Natalie van Coevorden will be looking to improve upon her 17th place finish from 2018.
While Katie Zaferes (USA) is nearly certain to take the overall WTS title provided it all goes her way, the World Championship title is still up for grabs with the Elite Women’s field bursting with elite talent. Great Britain’s mainstays of Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jessica Learmonth, Non Stanford and Vicky Holland will all take to the starting line come Saturday. They’ll be joined by Zaferes, and her teammates Taylor Spivey and Summer Rappaport, as well as Canada’s Joanna Brown and France’s Cassandre Beaugrand, setting up a showdown of epic proportions for one of the biggest races on the 2019 calendar.
Queensland’s Matt Hauser will have his sights set on an U23 World Championship title to add to his 2017 Junior title this weekend in Lausanne, after a potent season on both the World Cup and World Triathlon Series circuits.
Claiming wins at the Nur-Sultan and Chengdu World Cups alongside a Top 10 finish at Montreal WTS, Hauser has shown he has got what it takes to tough it out with some of the best. However, he will need to overcome challenging competition in New Zealand’s Tayler Reid and Canadian Brock Hoel who will wear the #1 if he wants to take line honours on Friday.
Moreton Bay Oceania Champion Brandon Copeland will make his third Grand Final appearance in Lausanne, off the back of his first season of WTS racing with a highlight of 26th at WTS Edmonton.
Queensland’s Milan Agnew will make her U23 team debut in Lausanne, joining training partners Luke Burns and Matt Roberts after a successful season of racing across Europe. While Queensland’s Joanne Miller and Kira Hedgeland (WA), as well as Canberra’s Callum McClusky also received the call up to race in Lausanne.
Australia’s Junior athletes will continue to gain valuable racing experience in Lausanne, as they head to the World Championships off the back of a training camp, made possible through Triathlon Australia partner Commonwealth Games Australia, Mixed Relay Athlete Development Project. With the training camp focusing on developing future World Champions, the Junior representatives will get their first opportunity to put their learnings into practice on Friday.
2018 Junior Sprint Oceania Champions Oscar Dart and Charlotte Derbyshire headline the Australian Junior contingent in Lausanne this weekend. With the pair securing their selection in Devonport amongst Australia’s best junior athletes, they’ll be looking to put their past year of racing experience into play in Lausanne.
Derbyshire's Youth Olympic Games teammate Joshua Ferris is also headed to Lausanne after a strong season that saw him take 6th in Devonport. While Lorcan Redmond will bring further experience to the squad, with the 19 year old set to back up his impressive fifth place finish at last year’s Gold Coast Grand Final.
Emily Jamgotchian will also make her second consecutive Grand Final appearance after an incredibly successful domestic season that saw her claim 5th at Devonport’s Oceania Championships and 1st in the Australian Junior Triathlon Series (AJTS) Junior Women rankings. Ellie Hoitink will make her Australian Junior squad debut after an equally impressive season, taking bronze at both the AJTS Junior Women rankings and the Devonport Oceania Championships.
2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Lausanne
Junior Women: Friday 30 August, 8AM LOCAL | Friday 30 August 4PM AEST
Junior Men: Friday 30 August 10AM LOCAL | Friday 30 August 6PM AEST
Under 23 Women: Friday 30 August 12PM LOCAL | Friday 30 August 8PM AEST
Under 23 Men: Friday 30 August 3PM LOCAL | Friday 30 August 11PM AEST
Elite Men: Saturday 31 August 2:21PM LOCAL | Saturday 31 August 10:21PM AEST
Elite Women: Saturday 31 August 5:06PM LOCAL | Sunday 1 September 1:06AM AEST
Under 23 & Junior Mixed Relay: Sunday 1 September 6PM LOCAL | Sunday 2 September 2AM AEST
Photo Credit: Delly Carr