She is already the big earner within PTO racing – she already earned over four hundred thousand dollars – and after today she can add some extra to her account: Ashleigh Gentle won the PTO Asian Open in Singapore after an impressive race. In the end it was not a really exciting battle, not only because of Gentle’s supremacy, but also because of notable mechanical problems for Anne Haug.
Immediately during the swim, something happened that few triathlon fans had anticipated: at first it was Lucy Charles-Barclay who led the field, but halfway through the swim, Spain’s Sara Perez Sala took over the lead and kept it until the 2 kilometers in the water were finished. Perez Sala was heading to her bike after 26:32 minutes and was then closely followed by Charles-Barclay, who could have saved some energy in the water by staying well behind the Spanish athlete. After Rebecca Clarke landed third – 54 seconds behind the two leaders – a large group followed at 1:45 minute behind, including Lotte Wilms, Fenella Langridge, Ellie Salthouse, Ashleigh Gentle, Chelsea Sodaro, Sarah True, Radka Kahlefeldt and Imogen Simmonds. Behind them again was one of the biggest favorites, Anne Haug, trailing by 2:29 minutes, which put her in a difficult situation.
Field torn apart
On the bike, the field was quickly torn apart, but Charles – in the lead almost the entire time – and Perez Sala stayed together. Behind them, Anne Haug’s strong bike work was particularly impressive; within twenty kilometers she had already advanced to fourth place and her gap had already been reduced to 1:19 minute. At that point only Gentle was still ahead of her, who was thus riding in third position and 54 seconds behind the leading duo. The bike course in Singapore was quite challenging; there were eight rounds of ten kilometers, with short but steep climbs, with percentages that sometimes reached more than ten percent.
Meanwhile, Gentle continued to ride particularly strong and slowly but surely the Australian athlete got closer to Charles-Barclay and Perez Sala. With 47 kilometers to go, the time had come and Gentle took over the lead in the race. She did so in such a high pace, that Charles-Barclay and Perez Sala didn’t even had a chance to connect, and within a few kilometers Gentle’s lead was already grown to half a minute. Gentle’s effort came at a silly moment for Simmonds; the Swiss athlete was riding pretty strong, was catching up with a lot of ladies and was already fifth, only 50 seconds behind, but due to Gentle’s pace she started to lose time again. This also made it harder for Haug to ride to the front; with thirty kilometers to go, the German joined Charles-Barclay and Perez Sala, but her gap to the leader was still almost forty seconds.
Mechanical issues for Haug
With ten kilometers to go on the bike, a little drama – at least for Haug herself – occurred: Haug suffered mechanical failure. What exactly happened is unclear, but a long, plastic ribbon got caught between the chain and the wheel of her bike, forcing her to dismount and spending at least two, maybe even three minutes trying to get the ribbon loose again. Despite the stress, Haug was smart enough not to throw away the ribbon when it finally came loose – fearing a penalty for littering – but to stow it in her trisuit. The incident did mean that Haug thus lost a lot of time and dropped back to fifth position.
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It was not necessarily very inconvenient for Gentle, although once back in T2 it became apparent that Simmonds had started another spectacular catch-up after all. The Swiss returned to the transition area in second and was only 45 seconds behind Gentle. Charles-Barclay followed in third at 1:08 minute, while Perez-Sala experienced a difficult final part of the bike leg: she was still fourth, but was almost two minutes behind Gentle. Haug followed in fifth at 2:39 minutes, so she was certainly not without a chance for a podium finish or even victory.
After the first of three running laps, it was clear that Gentle was unbeatable today; she was fast ahead of Charles-Barclay (+2:19), Simmonds (+2:35) and Haug could not get any closer either. Haug did not seem to be enjoying the race anyway and made a stupid mistake at an aid station, where she missed drinks and had to go back and get some.
Still, Haug did not give up and not much later she overtook first Simmonds and then Charles-Barclay. As if they were standing still, Haug passed them, seizing second place. Meanwhile, an exciting duel for the bronze ensued, but it was already clear that Gentle would win and Haug would claim the silver. Simmonds, meanwhile, ran away from Charles-Barclay, who would also be overtaken not much later by a strong running Chelsea Sodaro. For the Ironman World Champion, it wasn’t finished then, as she also caught up with Simmonds in the final kilometers to secure bronze.
Gentle won the race in in 3:41:16. Haug finished second in 3:43:32 and Sodaro third in 3:46:10. Simmonds and Charles-Barclay finished in fourth and fifth position.