Triathlon World Series
Aileen Morrison placed 28th out of 69 starters in the first ITU World Triathlon Series race of the season in Sydney, Australia.
The race was Morrison’s first major hit out of the season in the build up to the London Olympics and contained arguably a stronger field than will be present in Hyde Park on August 4th. With Olympic places up for grabs the stronger nations were looking to whittle down the contenders to just 3 who would be put forward for an Olympic berth.
As the buzzer sounded, Morrison got off to a flying start getting clear of much of the scramble experienced during the first 500 meters. The field was lead out by super swimmer Mariko Adachi of Japan with a group including Morrison and 2011 World Champion Helen Jenkins close behind.
Triathlon Ireland’s High Performance Director Chris Jones commented “Aileen had an excellent swim, one of best of her career which will give her a real confidence boost going forward.”
Exiting the 1500m wetsuit swim in 4th position, Morrison had a quick transition and easily made the lead pack containing 29 athletes. The chase pack of 24 included some top class runners such as Olympic Champion Emma Snowsill.
The pace was furious when it came to the bike leg with the lead pack keen to keep their slim 30 second advantage. It took almost 20km of hard graft for the gap to close meaning all the main contenders were in a group of 50 entering T2.
Morrison was well positioned in T2 and exited 6 seconds down on the leaders. It looked for a while like Morrison could reproduce her quick run of two weeks ago and bridge up to the lead pack of 8 but it was not to be. Morrison, citing stomach problems didn’t have her best run and drifted off the pace to finish 28th.
“Aileen just didn’t have her running legs today. Having said that, it was her first race at this level in over 6 months so we’ll take the positives from the swim and bike and continue to build towards London.” commented Chris Jones.
Speaking in the finish area Morrison said “I was happy with my swim and the bike felt good but once I started running I just didn’t feel great.”
“Maybe if I ran the run I’m capable of I would have placed a lot better.”
Meanwhile, Gavin Noble got underway in the men’s race in the early hours of Saturday morning for the Sydney leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series. Ranked 44th in the Olympic Simulation with the top 55 to qualify for London, Noble went into the race with a clear focus of gathering points.
Occupying the 59th spot on the start pontoon Noble soon found himself in the thick of the action as they rounded the first swim buoy scrambling 7 and 8 abreast. By halfway Noble had manage to find some clear water and exited the 1500m swim in 18minutes and the top half of the field.
Onto the bike and Noble settled into the main pack as Elvery of New Zealand and Vasiliev of Russian pushed on to form a two man break away.
“For me as a small nation it’s not my concern to pull them back, I guess if it’s the Russian’s away then it’s more the concern of the Canadian’s and the Spanish.” Noble commented.
“For those guys to stay away on the bike when it was so hard was impressive. I can show you my power data and you’ll see while we’re cycling around in a big group it’s defiantly not easy.”
Entering T2 the two leaders had a minute over the main pack. Noble had a quick transition, racking his bike and donning his runners in 21 seconds flat and was out for the 10km run. Early breakaway leader Elvery soon fell off the pace and was swallowed up by the chasers. A gutsy Vasiliev held on until the final few kilometres where a trio containing Justus of Germany, Murray of South Africa and Vidal of France blazed past.
Meanwhile Noble was moving through the field up from 45th in the early stages to finish 35th from 70 starters.
“I’ve been out with a stress fracture for 7 weeks so my run fitness it’s really there and I knew when I got off the bike I’d have to run my own race and try and pick guys off.” Noble commented afterwards.
“My job was to come here and score points. I know myself where my form is and I’m not here to be a hero I’m here to collect points and every place matters.”
The race was won by Steffen Justus who pulled clear with 3km remaining to the finish in a time of 1:51:04. Murray had a break through race coming through in second with last weekend’s Mooloolaba World Cup winner Laurent Vidal in 3rd.