Moffatt and Bailie earn automatic Rio spot
9 April 2016
TRIATHLON: Australia’s Ryan Bailie had a career best year in 2015 but his fourth place finish at the WTS Gold Coast delivered him an elusive automatic Olympic nomination place for Rio, while Emma Moffatt has booked a spot on the Olympic team to Rio de Janeiro after a seventh-place finish at her hometown race at the WTS Gold Coast.
Moffatt, the 2008 Beijing bronze medallist, has also created history as the only female Australian triathlete to attain a third Olympic spot, and she will do so with partner Daniel Bowker who booked his ticket as part of the formidable Australian Kayak team.
Moffatt positioned herself ideally, setting up the race from the start as she emerged from the swim in the first group, rode strongly in the front group before Helen Jenkins (GBR), Andrea Hewitt (NZL) and Flora Duffy (BER) broke away in the final laps to have over a one minute gap onto the run. It proved enough for Jenkins who not only broke Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 15 race winning streak and book her ticket to Rio. Jorgensen eventually ran herself into second while Hewitt continued her successful start to the season rounding out the podium.
Moffatt showed true grit in the stifling Gold Coast heat and admitted she had to put thoughts of Rio from her mind today.
“I tried not to think about it, I was blocking those thoughts until I crossed the line, it might take a little while to absorb it,” said Moffatt.
“My aim was to come into this race and try to get that automatic spot, to eliminate any doubt or political issue,” she said.
2012 London bronze medallist Erin Densham also put together a strong swim/bike race today to remain in contention but the effort on the bike took its toll, eventually finishing 35th place.
Gillian Backhouse put herself in the mix early in the swim and initial laps of the bike before having to withdraw from the race as did Felicity Sheedy-Ryan.
It wasn’t the race that Gold Coaster Ashleigh Gentle had hoped for, after a slow swim she found herself the only one driving the chase group, which blew out, to a 2min 20sec deficit. They had clawed some time back by they hit T2 but was always going to be a hard ask. Gentle fought to the end and managed to finish second Australian today in 15th.
“It was just really hard after such a huge build up to have a race like that,” said Gentle
“It was just tough, I didn’t get any help whatsoever on the bike, I can say that with confidence because that’s the truth,” she said.
There were a few girls in the pack who were really strong cyclist but I guess maybe they weren’t feeling too well.
That was a really hard ride mentally knowing the group was strong up ahead and motivated and obviously gaining, gaining gaining.
Unfortunately I just faded a lot on the last two laps, I was just so tired and hot and that bike ride began to suck it out of me.
I’m really thrilled for Moffy, third Olympics is pretty amazing for a triathlete, really happy an Aussie could put it together and one of us could get that Olympic spot.
I fought to the end riding hard with what I could, unfortunately it wasn’t enough for me to even get in the top ten, it is what it is and I’ll be racing Yokohama next.
The ITU Junior World champion and 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games representative will line up at the WTS Yokohama race to push her position for selection.
But today it was Moffatt’s day, and while she remained vigilant of her team-mates she came here to acquit herself against the rest of the world.
“She (Erin) hid on the bike a little bit I knew her legs were going to be a bit fresh, I haven’t seen her race for a long time so didn't’ know what to expect.”
“No matter what bike pack Ash was in she was boing to be a threat, she came home strong in Abu Dhabi and I was fully aware of that.
“It is surprising those girls were amazing up front and really glad that Helen got to hold on and win.
“The rest of the team wont be announced until the middle of May so I can go home sit back have a little rest and sort out my plan for Rio,” added Moffatt.
Emma Jackson has a solid race to finish in 28th spot today. Jackson remained at the back of the chase group and produced a good run leg to put her back in the top half of the 66 strong field today.
Australia’s Ryan Bailie had a career best year in 2015 but his fourth place finish at the WTS Gold Coast delivered him an elusive automatic Olympic nomination place for Rio.
It was a Spanish 1-2 as the all-conquering Mario Mola kept his winning streak alive in 2016. It was another clinical performance from the Spaniard who put himself in the main bunch the entire race before streaking away from Fernando Alarza in the final stages to win. A return to racing saw a dramatic finish by Great Britain’s Jonny Brownlee struggling to remain on his feat but still managed to finish third.
It was a great day for the Australian men who finished with three in the top ten. Ryan Fisher finished just behind Bailie in fifth, Jacob Birtwhistle ran from a long way back to grab ninth, while Aaron Royle continues to build his preparation for Rio, having secured his place on the team early finishing 17th.
“I owe a lot to Jamie (Turner) and the just the Wizards pretty much they’ve help me so much. I’m pretty much speechless,” said Bailie.
“If you had told me six years ago I’d be going to my first Olympic Games I probably would have laughed at you.
A veteran of two Olympic campaigns it was the final chance for Courtney Atkinson to grab an automatic spot but a mistake racking his bike and ensuring 15sec penalty saw him fall out of contention despite being in the front group on the run and may draw a close to the dream of a third Olympic birth, eventually finishing 29th.
With a strong current running in the Broadwater the far side was prime position. The familiar figure of Richard Varga (SVK) was first to emerge and Aaron Royle was the first of the Aussies, quickly followed by Bailie, Fisher and Atkinson to make the front group.
Jacob Birtwhistle missed this opportunity and was left to work in the chase group.
In the first lap of the bike they were joined by seven others, including Royle, Ben Kanute (USA) and Alessandro Fabian (ITA), to create a 12-strong lead pack on the bike.
But with the likes of Alistair Brownlee (GBR), Ryan Fisher (AUS), Ryan Bailie (AUS), Thomas Bishop (GBR) and Mola in the chase group, the leaders were hard-pressed to make their break stick.
A 15-second gap from the second lap was cut to nine seconds just one lap later, and they came together within the next kilometre where the peloton then tallied 29.
An episode of breakaway attempts then occurred in the latter half of the bike leg. Alistair Brownlee was first to enjoy a solo ride and his pushed through a lap on his own. But he retreated back to the pack when he was unable to gain any company.
It was then that Ben Shaw (IRL) and Tom Bishop (GBR) went together on a breakaway push and were able to create a gap of 50 seconds and enter the second transition zone together with a slight advantage.
Coming into T2 the four Australia’s were in this next group, Royle, Fisher, Bailie and Atkinson. After the first lap Mola and Brownlee managed to reel in Shaw and Bishop. For the Australian’s it was Bailie who made the move through the group and was in podium contention. In the end it was fourth for Bailie and a Rio birth.
“The heat wasn't really an issue I pulled a muscle, wasn't cause I couldn’t hang in it was just my calf kept tightening, I was so scared I was going to pull it, I’ve had a few calf drama’s,” said Bailie
“This is my second top place, the podium is still beckoning but just wanted to take it out of selectors hands, I didn’t want it to go to discretionary,” he said.
Australia’s Performance Director Bernard Savage said it was a super day for the Australian’s.
“Very encouraging results here today with three men in the top ten and two more athletes automatically qualifying for the team,” said Savage
“The level of racing from all the team against the quality fields here today was fantastic.
“We’re now looking forward to see how it plays out in the next month and the standard they raced today show clear indications of even better performances to come.”