Gentle wins historic 7th Noosa Triathlon

Jake Birtwhistle shrugged off South African Henri Schoeman to claim his second Noosa Triathlon.
Jake Birtwhistle shrugged off South African Henri Schoeman to claim his second Noosa Triathlon.

Ashleigh Gentle has tightened her grip on the Noosa Triathlon with an historic seventh victory, while Jake Birtwhistle has bolstered his prospects at next year's Olympics with a commanding second win.

Gentle claimed her sixth-straight and record seventh overall title with a trademark runaway effort in tricky conditions on Sunday, eclipsing former coach Craig Walton's mark of six in the process.

The Rio Olympian battled through a shortened swim leg due to a dangerous rip and big swell, emerging sixth and working her way towards the front on a quick cycle leg.

She then cruised past fellow Tokyo Olympic hopeful Natalie Van Coevorden, blitzing another run leg to win by nearly one minute in one hour, 57 minutes and 53 seconds.

"Relief is one (emotion); there was so much talk before the race about breaking the record, so it feels good," she said.

"It feels a bit weird, I don't think I'll get used to the queen (of Noosa) reference but I'll take it."

Birtwhistle (1:43.39) won in 2017 but failed to finish last year.

The Tasmanian was in powerful form in his 2019 return though, shrugging off South African Henri Schoeman in the final 500 metres to win by 22 seconds.

It reversed the result of last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, while Schoeman had also jagged bronze at Rio's Olympics.

Defending champion Aaron Royle was third, hampered on the run when he stumbled after clipping a motorbike carrying a cameraman on course.

"It's great to be back and racing well. It was a tough one, just had to play the waiting game there (running with Schoeman)," he said.

"I was confident I'd have him covered if I was there at the back end of the run.

"It's a bit of a confidence booster and nice way to finish the year on a big positive and be ready for a big 2020."

NOOSA TRIATHLON

MEN

* Jake Birtwhistle 1:43.39

* Henri Schoeman 1:44.01

* Aaron Royle 1:44.18

WOMEN

* Ashleigh Gentle 1:57.53

* Natalie Van Coevorden 1:58.49

* Sarah Crowley 1:59.00

Australian Associated Press