Ashleigh Gentle roared to victory at the 2023 PTO Tour Asian Open as Anne Haug saw her victory derailed by mechanical woes in Singapore on Saturday.
Gentle was unmatched in the brutal humidity, taking control of the race during the bike and leading the rest of the way. Unfortunately, however, this expensive engine for Haug meant we never got the expected battle between two of the best racers in the sport.
Reigning IRONMAN World Champion Chelsea Sodaro he put in an amazing run to move up to the last podium position at the front Imogen Simmonds and Lucy Charles-Barclay.
Swim – Perez Sala leads LCB
We were treated to something of an unusual sight as the field began to emerge from the water with the “mermaid” that is Charles-Barclay not leading. Instead it was from Spain Sara Perez Sala who pinned her down for a few seconds.
But the front pair had blasted their way to a nice advantage over the rest of the field. of New Zealand Rebecca Clarke he was third, about 54 seconds off the pace, with the other big guns further back. Gentle was 1:48 out with Haug 2:29 back.
Perez Sala, who was not wearing a swimsuit, gained some valuable extra seconds over Charles-Barclay in T1 as she started on the bike at the front. Haug meanwhile gained a few seconds with the fastest first transition of the day.
Bike – Gentle takes on the destruction for Haug
Charles-Barclay closed the gap on Perez Sala with just 3 seconds left in the first bike lap, while behind them the other big guns really started to fire. Gentle was now third in 1:12 with Clarke following and then Simmonds and Sodaro just 90 seconds off the lead. Haug meanwhile made real inroads, now 1:48 back in seventh place.
Lucy took over at the front early in the second cycling lap and held a narrow advantage over Perez Sala through it. However, the closures are reducing the deficit. Gentle was now less than a minute in third with the flying Haug trailing in 1:19. Right behind her were Simmonds and Sodaro.
Gentle continued his surge forward and by the end of lap 4 he had passed Charles-Barclay and Perez Sala and opened up a 15 second gap. Haug was just 43 seconds off the pace and continued to close in on the leaders.
With just under 25km remaining on both wheels, Haug had now passed Charles-Barclay and Perez Sala to move into second place, some 36 seconds behind Gentle. The two leaders were clearly enjoying a bike course with many tough climbs.
Starting the penultimate lap of 8 on the bike, the front five – Gentle, Haug, Charles-Barclay, Perez Sala and Simmonds – were separated by 1:18. There was then a big gap of almost another 3 minutes from Sodaro in sixth. Gentle’s lead at the front was 40 seconds.
Disaster would strike Haug late in the penultimate lap as she suffered mechanical failure (a spare inner tube caught on her rear wheel), which ultimately cost her more than 2 minutes before she was able to get back on the bike again. This dropped her to fifth, now more than 3 minutes behind Gentle. It would ultimately destroy any hope of victory.
It was Simmonds who made something of a move on the final bike lap, moving into second and closing the gap on Gentle to 32 seconds by T2. Charles-Barclay was 1:06 back in third with Perez Sala in 1:24.
Haug eventually reached T2 some 2:33 behind Gentle, with the Aussie now heavily favored for another PTO Tour win going into the 18km mark.
Running – Very good as he enters the house
Gentle quickly started to make clear stretches early in the run, while behind her Charles-Barclay passed Simmonds for second. At the 4km mark, Ashleigh had her overall lead at 1:49 over LCB with Haug at 3:01.
Haug quickly made her way back up the field, passing Perez Sala (who had also taken a penalty), Simmonds and Charles-Barclay to move up to second. He continued to be 3 minutes behind Gentle, albeit halfway through the run. Further back, Sodaro was now one of the fastest women still on the course and now up to fifth place.
With 5km to go, Gentle still held a 2:49 lead over Haug, while the final podium spot looked to be between Charles-Barclay and Simmonds, with the Swiss star edging the Briton into third for now. Lucy would then soon lose fourth place to the charger Sodaro.
Chelsea was flying now and overtook Simmonds for the final podium spot, but up front it was Gentle who dominated as she took a hugely impressive 2:15 win and a $100,000 first prize.
PTO Asian Open Tour Results
Saturday, August 19, 2023
- 1. Ashleigh Gentle (Australia) – 3:41:16
- 2. Anne Haug (Germany) – 3:43:32
- 3. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) – 3:46:10
- 4. Imogen Simmonds (SUI) – 3:47:06
- 5. Lucy Charles-Barclay (GBR) – 3:48:00
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