Although Matt Hauser has been a regular participant in the Noosa Triathlon race week for the past ten years, Australia’s number-one triathlete will be making his professional race debut when the iconic event celebrates its 40th anniversary on Sunday.
And for 24-year-old Gold Coaster, the time feels right to put it all on the line after a rollercoaster 2023.
A year that saw the dreaded COVID rob him of a start in the Paris Olympic Test Event, only to see him dig deep as only he can, to assure an Olympic Games nomination at the World Championships in Pontevedra a month later.
But to add his name to the who’s who of triathlon who have won the internationally acclaimed Noosa Triathlon has been a long-time goal of Hauser’s as he winds down a year that started in March and comes to a close some on Sunday, nine months later on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
“This will actually be my first pro Noosa Triathlon race,” said Hauser, after putting the finishing touches to his preparations around the picturesque beachfront streets of Currumbin on the Gold Coast, where he now resides.
“I have been involved in the Noosa race week for the last ten years and probably the first person to do the legends race before the pro race and I remember doing the Noosa 5km Bolt back when I was 14 or 15.
“It is such an iconic weekend, the best weekend for triathlon on the calendar in Australia no doubt and I really wanted to give it the respect it deserves and make sure I was ready to debut and give it my all out on the course and that day has finally come.”
Hauser knows the non-drafting format will be an exciting challenge, having never ridden a time trial bike in a race before and only a handful of times in training – a skill he describes as a different art form.
“It is certainly different, compared to the World Triathlon Championship Series drafting format but I’m pretty confident and comfortable on the time trial bike,” said Hauser.
“I have spoken to a few of my mates who have competed in the race before and I’ve got a fair idea of how it will go down, obviously having watched it for many, many years, I know the course without even having competed on it and I’m really looking forward to the challenge and this year with so many great internationals coming in to race it which is great for the sport in Australia and such a drawcard race.
“My body is feeling like this is definitely the last race of the year, the mind as well.
“Getting COVID in Paris wasn’t ideal but I managed to squeeze in a bit of training, coming from behind the eight-ball a little bit but scrambling to get back into the swing of things.
“I’m looking forward to one last push and I’ll wrap it up for the year and prepare for a big one next year, the race is so infectious I’ll get hooked no doubt.”
And he won’t be the only big name making his race debut, with a brace of Olympic bronze medallists, Hayden Wilde (NZL) and Henri Schoeman (RSA) adding a touch of international class to a top-flight field.
Hauser, now ranked fifth in the World and Olympic rankings, rekindles his rivalry with Wilde, ranked second in the world and Olympic rankings, sure to continue right up until they dive into the River Seine chasing Olympic gold on July 30, next year.
Also joining the throng will be Hauser’s Tokyo Olympic teammate Jake Birtwhistle, a two-time past Noosa winner in 2017 and 2019, and their Commonwealth Games teammates Brandon Copeland (2022) and Luke Willian (2018) as well as defending champion Charlie Quin.
Wilde’s Kiwi teammate from Tokyo Tayler Reid and Australia’s own Pete Jacobs, the 2012 Kona Ironman winner, who at 42 will be the elder statesman in the red-hot field.
Hauser knows Wilde is a ruthless competitor, the reason why he has done what he has done to become one of the world’s best.
“Hayden is a master of his craft and he’s a really great tactician, it’s a pleasure to see how he goes about his racing.
“I’m sure we can bring the fight back to him; Hayden is definitely one of the ones to beat but I have shown in Super League and a few other races in the past that when I’m within a sniff of the win I can take it with both hands.
“And hopefully Noosa is no different if I can master the art of the time trial bike and all that comes with it.”
Wilde is using Noosa to prepare for the IRONMAN 70.3 Melbourne the following weekend, as he aims to earn his ticket to the 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, held in his hometown of Taupo, New Zealand.
Noosa Triathlon Elite Men
Hayden Wilde (NZL)
Matt Hauser (AUS)
Charlie Quinn (AUS)
Jake Birtwhistle (AUS)
Henri Schoeman (RSA)
Braden Currie (NZL)
Josh Amberger (AUS)
Brandon Copeland (AUS)
Nicholas Free (AUS)
Yoann Colin (AUS)
Nick Frisby (AUS)
Pete Jacobs (AUS)
Matt Kerr (NZL)
Harvey Lanigan (AUS)
Kurt McDonald (AUS)
Jarrod Osborne (AUS)
Jamie Riddle (RSA)
Jack Sosinski (AUS)
Rory Thornhill (AUS)
Edward Vining (AUS)
Harrison Wiles (AUS)
Levi Hauwert (AUS)