This weekend sees some mouth-watering racing in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia’s oldest triathlon will take place at Nepean, while a quality field heads to Thailand to tackle Challenge Kanchanaburi.
Text By Rob Sheeley | Images By Witsup ITU and Getty Images
Gentle Chasing Another Nepean Title
The Nepean Triathlon, held in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, is Australia’s oldest triathlon. The event takes place in and around the International Regatta Center at Penrith, the race comprises of a 1km swim, 30km bike and 10km run.
The race also features the unique handicap race between the professional men and women’s fields. The women have taken it out for the last three years and the handicap for this year will be nine minutes and one second.
As usual, the race has attracted Olympians and top-flight ITU racers, along with some middle and long distance athletes as well.
Ashleigh Gentle is a proven performer at the ITU level, however when it comes to non-drafting events, her results are a sight to behold.
Gentle has a genuine affinity with the Nepean event. She was second in 2013 and then won in 2014. Last year she was engaged in an engrossing battle with Emma Moffatt. Just when it appeared that Gentle had the upper hand, she started to stumble, suffering from vertigo. Not only did she manage to recover and finish second, but she also backed up to win the Noosa Triathlon a week later. Gentle is clearly the one to beat again in 2016.
Charlotte McShane has had her share of ups and downs in 2016, but it hasn’t prevented her from delivering some great results. The piece de resistance for McShane was at the ITU Grand Final in Cozumel. She finished third in a hot field to register her first WTS podium. McShane also registered wins at the London Triathlon and British Sprint Triathlon during the season. If she brings that sort of form to Nepean, she is sure to be at the pointy end of the field again.
Sarah Crowley will return to short-course racing after finishing 15th at the Ironman World Championship in Kona two weeks ago. Before that, Crowley finished second at Challenge Jeju. It will be interesting to see how she goes back in the land of high-heart rates.
Natalie Van Coevorden will line up for her fifth Nepean Triathlon this year. She was selected to represent Australia at the ITU World Championship and is an athlete who is still on the up. She showed her ability in the non-drafting ranks when she finished second at Challenge Melbourne at her half-distance debut.
New Zealand’s Nicky Samuels is an experienced ITU campaigner and Olympian who is also capable of mixing it with the best. She is coming off a DNF at the World Championship in Cozumel after an unfortunate crash on the bike with Vicky Holland. She will be keen to return to form here and is another one to keep an eye on.
Nepean Triathlon 2016 Startlist
Radka Looks To Make It Two In A Row
Challenge Kanchanaburi will feature a very similar field to the one that we saw race Ironman 70.3 Hefei last week. This should be a good reference point on what we might expect to unfold in Thailand on the weekend.
Radka Vodickova was superb in Hefei, and will be the favourite this week based on her win in China. She will be prominent right from the start, possessing a strong swim and terrific bike leg. She is chasing her third win for 2016 and is every chance of pulling it off.
Emma Pallant was relentless in her pursuit of Vodickova last week and will look to make the necessary improvements to land on the top step of the dais here. The dual world duathlon champion continues to get better each time she steps out over the half-distance and is definitely one to watch. While she may not match it with the quicker swimmers in this race, she will be making up a lot of ground on the bike and run, pressing her claims late in the race.
Robin Pomeroy was an absolute powerhouse on the bike in Hefei and laid the foundation for her third placing with a devastating display of high-wattage cycling. There is no reason that we cannot see an encore performance in Kanchanaburi.
One athlete who did not race last weekend, but is a real winning chance here, is Amelia Watkinson. The big-biking New Zealander has been on fire of late and trains in Thailand with the Thanyapura Triathlon team. Watkinson has strung three straight wins together at Challenge Jeju, the ITU Long Distance in Weihei and Challenge Iskander Puteri. There is little doubt that she is a serious contender in this race.
Parys Edwards made up a lot of ground on the run leg in Hefei last week to narrowly miss the podium. Should she manage to find herself a little closer to the pointy end of the field off the bike, then she will give the leaders a reason to be looking over their shoulders.
Challenge Kanchanaburi 2016 Starlist