Royle’s ready for bat­tle with Birtwhis­tle

Multisport Mecca - - Noosa Tri -

AARON Royle will at­tempt to cap­ture a third Noosa Triathlon crown this week­end, bol­stered by an im­pos­ing vic­tory at Pen­rith on Sun­day.

The 28-year-old has en­dured an “off” year but will head to the iconic event with a sig­nif­i­cant morale boost, af­ter beat­ing a field in­clud­ing Olympian Ryan Bailie at the Ne­pean Triathlon.

He cov­ered the 1km swim, 30km bike and 10km run in 1hr 28min 23sec.

“It gives me a bit of con­fi­dence go­ing into Noosa, know­ing that what I’m do­ing is on the right track,” he said.

“If I can repli­cate, if not go a bit bet­ter than I did at the Ne­pean, then I should be in with a good chance of claim­ing a third ti­tle.”

Royle’s per­for­mance at Pen­rith was one of the most eye-catch­ing there in re­cent years.

He over­came an eight-minute hand­i­cap to women’s win­ner Ash­leigh Gen­tle, pass­ing her with 3km re­main­ing.

It was his fifth tri­umph in Aus­tralia’s old­est triathlon race.

But he won’t head to this week­end’s event over­con­fi­dent.

“There were a cou­ple of re­ally good ath­letes who weren’t at the Ne­pean, like Jake Birtwhis­tle and Ryan Fisher, so I know it’s go­ing to go up an­other level in Noosa and I’ll have to raise my­self as well.”

Royle fin­ished run­ner-up to world No.3 Birtwhis­tle at Noosa last time around.

And this sea­son, he’s en­dured “a bit of a tough year”.

“I just never re­ally found my groove,” he said. “There were a few races here and there I was happy with but it (oth­er­wise) didn’t seem to click for me.

“When that hap­pens you sort of find your­self forc­ing things a bit and that never re­ally works in your favour. We’re two years out from the Olympics so if I was go­ing to have an off year this was the time to have it.

“Next year there’s an Olympic qual­i­fi­ca­tion race so that will be the main aim. Af­ter Noosa, I’ll have a break and then it will be all go, try­ing to qual­ify for Tokyo.”

Royle has no qualms about do­ing two events in seven days.

“Some peo­ple don’t like to do the Ne­pean and Noosa be­cause they feel it wears them out but I feel it (the for­mer) gets you ready to go and hope­fully by Noosa I’ll be (fir­ing on) all cylin­ders.”

He did the Ne­pean-Noosa dou­ble in 2013 and 2014.

Birtwhis­tle will be tough to beat, but the 23-year-old from Tas­ma­nia has strug­gled with in­jury.

He is the high­est ranked Aus­tralian male for many years and a win in Noosa would put the ic­ing on a sea­son of rac­ing that in­cluded a sil­ver medal at the Com­mon­wealth Games, three podi­ums at WTS events and an over­all third place at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Fi­nal on the Gold Coast.

“It has been a re­ally good year for me but it was a bit dif­fer­ent to nor­mal with the in­clu­sion of the Com­mon­wealth Games,” he said.

“Be­ing so early it changed things up a lit­tle but I was happy to be in the team, race well there in­di­vid­u­ally and in the mixed re­lay, then move onto the rest of the WTS and got podi­ums at Yoko­hama, Edmonton and Mon­treal.”

“I have a re­ally good group to train with and Mario (Mola), Vin­cent (Luis) and I fin­ished the sea­son, one, two and three over­all in the WTS, so I lit­er­ally have the best train­ing part­ners in the world that you could have. It is re­ally good to train with those guys as they are the main com­pe­ti­tion.

“Af­ter the se­ries fi­nal on the Gold Coast my next event was Su­per League in Jer­sey. It was a two-day event that turned into a one-day event for me when I got taken out on the bike and wasn’t able to fin­ish. So it was a 65 hours of travel for 15 min­utes of rac­ing which was a bit of a shame.

“I went down quite hard on my right side and took a lot of skin off and had quite bad bruis­ing to my hip. I was barely able to walk on it and that kind of knocked me around and was out of ac­tion for a week af­ter that. Then just as things were com­ing good I got sick.

“The last month hasn’t been ideal and train­ing hasn’t been amaz­ing but I am kind of hop­ing that with a bit of a ta­per and a freshen up, the racer in me will come out. I haven’t done the work I would nor­mally have done lead­ing into Noosa but I am still go­ing there to win and have a good re­sult. So I am hop­ing the body re­mem­bers what to do on race day.”

There will also be a strong lo­cal con­tin­gent rac­ing in the elite men cat­e­gory.

Ex­pe­ri­enced long course rac­ers Luke McKen­zie and Casey Munro will be out to see if they can stay with the young­sters, while for­mer Coolum-based ITU ath­lete Ben Shaw will also be on the start line.

In an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity for Boka­rina 19-year-old Jake Hynes, he makes his elite de­but af­ter an im­pres­sive ju­nior ca­reer un­der the guid­ance of Toby Coote of Sun­shine Coast Tri Academy.

CON­TENDER: Aaron Royle was run­ner-up in last year’s Noosa Triathlon. PHOTO: WAR­REN LY­NAM

DE­BUT: Jake Hynes.

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