The Noosa Triathlon is one of the most iconic in Australia and the world’s biggest Olympic distance age-group race, which now forms the feature of a five-day multisport festival. In 2017 the field includes some incredibly accomplished athletes are set to assemble.

Text By Rob Sheeley | Images By Talbot Cox and Witsup

 

Headlining the 17-strong start list is the reigning Queen of Noosa, Ashleigh Gentle. The 26-year-old has won the last three Noosa titles and also won back in 2012 to make it a career tally of four.

Gentle broke through for her maiden WTS victory this season and finished second in the overall World Championship rankings. She tuned up for this week by winning the Nepean Triathlon in Western Sydney last Sunday and will take a power of beating again in Noosa.

(c) Witsup

She says she plans to pull out all stops on Sunday.

“I guess being defending champ, you do have a target on your back but It’s a race that I really enjoy and so on Sunday I’ll aim to hurt myself as much possible and hope everyone else is actually hurting more.

“Noosa is always an important race for me. I had a break after Rotterdam and then got back into training for this race – which was always the plan. But I also want to be my best for commonwealth games in April next year.”

(c) Witsup

Natalie Van Coevorden will enter the race hoping to go one place better than she did in Noosa just 12-months ago. Van Coevorden led the race with just four kilometres remaining in 2016 before being overhauled by Gentle and eventually finishing second by a minute. She also comes into the race after contesting the Nepean event, where she finished third.

Gillian Backhouse showed at Nepean last weekend that she has the ability to push Gentle for a long way over this distance. She managed to swim in front of Gentle and then outride her; a feat that few are capable of. If she can pinch a slightly bigger break on the bike in Noosa, it may air things interesting.

“Everyone knows that Ash’s run is amazing and mine isn’t so much so I Need to put it all down to swim/bike and put in a gap before the run,” Backhouse said.

“Ever since my first Noosa in ’09 I’ve wanted to win. I haven’t raced the last few years but really excited to be here this year.”

(c) Witsup

Liz Blatchford makes her much anticipated return to racing at Noosa after giving birth to her daughter Mahli in June.

While her focus is on long-course racing, Blatchford did finish fourth at Noosa in 2014. She will use this as a stepping-stone toward long course racing and could be back over the half-distance at Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney in a few weeks time.

“Being out of competition for 18-months I’ve realised that training/racing isn’t just a profession. It’s something I love to do and have missed it,” Blatchford said at the pre-race press conference.

“I’ve really placed no expectations on my self. There has been sleep deprivation and a lack of training, but everyone talks about this baby boost thing so I’m keen to test that out this weekend – the sleep deprivation and little training versus the baby boost.”

There is little that Sarah Crowley has not done in 2017. She has victories over all distances and in all conditions. She won the short course Luke Harrop memorial earlier in the year before going on to win two regional Ironman Championships as well as the ITU Long Course World Championship. She put the icing on her 2017 cake with a third placing in Kona, validating that she is one of the hottest properties in world triathlon at the moment. If anyone can pull of an upset, it may well be Crowley.

(c) Talbot Cox

Ellie Salthouse recently returned to racing after missing almost five months with an injury. The Queenslander has had a sensational run of form since turning her hand to the half-distance. She recently took out Ironman 70.3 Miami in her first race back and had already racked up three podiums earlier in the year over the same distance. She will use this race as a lead-in to the Island House Tri before her southern summer assault.

Two time duathlon world champion Felicity Sheedy-Ryan also backs up from Nepean where she finished fourth, around three-minutes behind Gentle.

The recently retired Felicity Abram makes a return to racing in Noosa where she won way back in 2006. She will race for charity, raising money for brain cancer research in memory of her late uncle.

Noosa Triathlon 2017 Start List

31  Ashleigh Gentle AUS
32  Gillian Backhouse AUS
33  Natalie van Coevorden AUS
34  Tamsyn Moana-Veale AUS
35  Jo Miller AUS
36  Felicity Abram AUS
37  Milan Agnew AUS
38  Liz Blatchford AUS
39  Laura Cook AUS
40  Sarah Crowley AUS
41  Laura Dennis AUS
42  Brittany Dutton AUS
43  Kate Pedley AUS
44  Ellie Salthouse AUS
45  Felicity Sheedy-Ryan AUS
46  Jacqueline Thistleton AUS
47  Ashleigh Williams NZL

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