Ashleigh Gentle scores breakthrough win in Edmonton
Reigning Junior World Champion Ashleigh Gentle of Australia stepped up to the elite ranks in a big way today, snatching victory at the Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup. Team ITU member Mateja Simic made history as the first Slovenian ever to make the podium at a World Cup after edging out Austrian Lisa Perterer.
“It started off pretty rough in the swim but had to work pretty hard in the bike. It is quite a tough course actually,” said Gentle. “I knew hopefully if I was in striking range off the bike I could really just nail the run and hopefully get past a few girls and not look back.”
A dreary and grey day welcomed the 49 elite women as they ran into Hawrelak Park lake for a 2-lap wetsuit swim. Brazil’s Pamela Nascimento Oliveira led the women out of the water with at least ten seconds on the rest of the field. But out onto the 40km bike course, a lead pack of more than a dozen women formed. Among them were Helle Frederiksen, Hollie Avil, Abbie Thorington and Flora Duffy.
In pursuit was the chase group of approximately 15 women which included Gentle, Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Kelly Whitley and Japanese veteran Kiyomi Niwata. The chase pack wasn’t digging into the lead throughout the tough 40km bike course until the last of the six laps when they cut the lead to less than 30 seconds.
Once the women hit the 10km run course, it didn’t take long for speedster Gentle to surge to the lead. Despite coming out of the second transition half a minute behind, the Aussie youngster was already in front midway through the first lap. It was clear no one would keep pace with Gentle and the race was on for second and third.
When Gentle broke the tape at 2 hours and 14 seconds as the victor, the smile soon gave way to emotion as she dropped to her knees in tears.
“When things really start to come together and all your hard work starts paying off, I guess it’s a bit emotional,” admitted Gentle.
Brazilian veteran Carla Moreno, Perterer and Mateja locked into a battle for the last two podium spots. Eventually Moreno was dropped and Perterer and Simic hit the final finish chute together, sprinting toward the line. Simic edged out the Austrian but both were ecstatic in simultaneous career breakthrough performances.
Simic’s silver was sweet success not just for herself, but also for Team ITU, the development programme that was competing at the Edmonton World Cup.
“This is the best result of my career, I am just looking for words,” said Simic at the finish area. “This is my only chance to go to the Olympic Games so I am really grateful to ITU for accepting me into the ITU Development team. I am really proud I am a member.”
Team ITU is an initiative of the ITU’s Sport Development Programme and offers support for athletes from developing and emerging national federations to race at the World Cup level. These athletes are potential elite contenders, but may not otherwise be able to attend these World Cup events.
Moreno finished fourth, followed by Anahi Leon in fifth place, Kiyomi Niwata in sixth, Charlotte Morel in seventh, Frederiksen in eighth, Keiko Tanaka in ninth and Alice Betto rounding out the top ten
Earlier in the day, the big news surrounded around Edmonton native Paula Findlay, who currently leads the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The local star was forced to pull out of the race with a hip injury.
Bevan Docherty resumes winning ways in Edmonton
Double Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty of New Zealand picked up where he left off in 2007, by winning gold in the Edmonton ITU Triathlon World Cup on Sunday.
“This course seems to treat me well. I enjoy racing here,” said Docherty. “I guess this is very similar to New Zealand weather so I’m used to it. But the reality is I am starting to hit good shape and I’m just happy with how things are going.”
Also finishing on the podium was silver medallist Aurelien Lescure of France, who scored his first World Cup medal. Triple Olympian Hunter Kemper of the U.S., who has been making resurgent strides this year on the circuit, took bronze.
A total of 76 men began the race with a 2-lap wetsuit swim in the Hawrelak Park lake. Docherty, along with Aaron Royle, Gavin Noble, Kemper, Peter Kerr, Kyle Jones and Simon Whitfield stormed into the first transition and were first out on the bike course going into the first lap. The lead group of 45 men kept the first chase group at bay by approximately 45 seconds throughout the six laps and kept within tight proximity of each other.
A second chase group wasn’t able to make up ground and trailed by over two minutes throughout the bike stage. As they entered the second transition, Kemper was the first off the bike and onto the 10km run course.
Early in the run Docherty and Lescure separated themselves from the field and jockeyed for top position throughout most of the run. Jones, Kemper and Whitfield stayed close through the late stages as they entered the final stretch.
Docherty surged ahead of Lescure as they neared the finish chute to secure his fifth career World Cup title. Kemper maintained his stride and kept his lead over Jones for the bronze.
“Four weeks out from our selection race which is in London,” said Docherty. “It is just reassuring to know that all the training that I’ve been doing is starting to pay off.”
For Lescure, the day was perfect.
“I am very happy (with) this race. This is my best race on the World Cup so I am very happy. I trained very hard for this and it’s a good gift for me,” said Lescure.
Kemper, whose sights are now set on London in four weeks, holds this race close to his heart.
“The fan support is great, the people come out. It’s quite a good race. It’s an easy travel trip for me coming straight from Colorado Springs. Edmonton always comes out and supports this race,” said Kemper.
Jones tied his career best World Cup performance with a fourth place showing.
Crisanto Grajales of Mexico finished up in fifth position after laying down a scorching run to move ahead of Whitfield late in the run. The Canadian star Whifield crossed the line in sixth place.
1. Ashleigh Gentle AUS 2:00:14
2. Mateja Simic SLO 2:01:06
3. Lisa Perterer AUT 2:01:07
4. Carla Moreno BRA 2:01:20
5. Anahi León MEX 2:01:26
6. Kiyomi Niwata JPN 2:01:38
7. Charlotte Morel FRA 2:01:53
8. Helle Frederiksen DEN 2:01:59
9. Keiko Tanaka JPN 2:02:05
10. Alice Betto ITA 2:02:10
18 Chantell Widney CAN 2:03:25
20 Manon Letourneau CAN 2:04:13
1. Bevan Docherty NZL 1:46:47
2. Aurélien Lescure FRA 1:46:49
3. Hunter Kemper USA 1:46:54
4. Kyle Jones CAN 1:47:06
5. Crisanto Grajales MEX 1:47:13
6. Simon Whitfield CAN 1:47:21
7. Akos Vanek HUN 1:47:22
8. Diogo Sclebin BRA 1:47:30
9. Hervé Banti MON 1:47:34
10. Aaron Royle AUS 1:47:37
16 Brent McMahon CAN 1:48:06
17 Andrew Russell CAN 1:48:09
42 Andre Paul Baillargeon Smith CAN 1:50:25
60 Andrew Yorke CAN 1:53:07
65 Patrice Hamelin CAN 1:55:39