Triathlon fans have long anticipated Australian Olympian Ashleigh Gentle’s move to long-distance racing, and today we got a glimpse of just how much potential the 31-year-old has over the half-distance as she surged to a dominant win at Clash Miami. For the men it was American Sam Long who powered clear of a strong group of long-distance and short-course athletes to take an impressive win, living up to his billing as the favourite.
Gentle bikes and runs to the win
Spain’s Sara Perez Sala burst onto the long-distance tri scene here a year ago when she came out of the water with Lucy Charles-Barclays, then rode along with the British star before ending up fourth. Today she duplicated her dominant swim, finishing the 1,700 m swim well ahead of a pack that included Gentle, American Chelsea Sodaro and Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira.
Out on the bike Perez Sala continued to lead the way, with Gentle moving to the front of the chase group and opening up time on Sodaro and Great Britain’s Emma Pallant-Browne. Then, about half way through the bike, Perez Sala would crash into a traffic cone and be forced out of the race.
Once Gentle was in front she started to gain time on the more experienced long-distance athletes chasing behind her, hitting T2 with a lead of almost two minutes over Sodaro, Pallant-Browne and Oliveira.
Once out on the run course the heat began to take its toll a lot of the field. Pallant-Browne would quickly drop out of the race, and Sodaro would also eventually have to pull out. That left Oliveira in second, but she was also losing lots of time to the Aussie leader.
She was in good company – Gentle would average 5:55/ mile to cruise to the win by almost eight minutes in 2:59:41, with Oliveira hanging on for second in 3:07:50. Denmark’s Maja Stage Nielsen managed to run herself to the final spot on the podium, crossing the line in 3:08:08.
Top Ten Women’s Results:
1. Ashleigh Gentle, 2:59:41 6. Lisa Becharas, 3:19:26
2. Pamella Oliveira, 3:07:50 7. Bruna Mahn, 3:20:59
3. Maja Stage Nielsen, 3:08:08 8. Lara Gruden, 3:25:43
4. Samantha Kingsford, 3:09:08 9. Summer Deal, 3:27:18
5. Sonja Catano, 3:16:17 10. Rebecca Marrou, 3:30:04
Long powers clear
Olympians Jonas Schomburg (GER) and Aaron Royle (AUS) led the way out of the water with American Ben Kanute (another Olympian) close behind. Long had what, for him, is a decent swim, hitting T1 about 2:30 behind.
Once out on the bike Kanute would quickly ride to the front and pull clear of the two swim leaders, but Long was slowly gaining time, with Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev right behind. Long really surged over the last few laps of the bike and would move to the lead, with Kanute hanging on for second ahead of Ditlev as the three hit T2.
Long powered out onto the run course and behind him Ditlev tried to keep the American in sight, moving to second ahead of Kanute. He would maintain a gap of about 45 seconds before suddenly dropping out of contention with a couple of laps to go. Long was never challenged as he cruised to the win in 2:39:55. Kanute would find himself battling for second as his countryman Jason West used the day’s fastest run to eventually take the runner-up spot in 2:41:47, with Kanute hanging on for third in 2:42:32, just 19-seconds ahead of another short-course athlete moving to long-distance racing, Youri Keulen (NED).
Canada’s Jackson Laundry bounced back from a broken thumb and rib sustained in January in style to take sixth place, while his countryman, Olympian Matt Sharpe, made his long-distance debut with a 10th-place finish in the race. Another former Olympian, Brent McMahon, took 13th, Nick Colman was 27th, with Taylor Reid finishing 33rd.
Top Ten Men’s Results:
1. Sam Long, 2:39:55. 6. Jackson Laundry, 2:45:40
2. Jason West, 2:41:47 7. Reinaldo Colucci, 2:46:29
3. Ben Kanute, 2:42:31 8. Jonas Schomburg, 2:46:34
4. Youri Keulen, 2:42:51 9. Chris Leiferman, 2:46:46
5. T.J. Butterfield, 2:43:18 10. Matthew Sharpe, 2:47:31