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Wollongong’s Jake Birtwhistle into World Tri-Series

Jacob Birtwhistle wins the men’s ITU Oceania Cup sprint race. Picture: ROBERT PEET
Nanjing Night Net

Wollongong triathlete Jake Birtwhistle will enter his first World Tri-Series Race in a rich vein of form after taking out Sunday’s ITU Oceania Cup sprint.

It’s his second major victory in the space of two weeks after his victory in the Devonport Triathlon last month, making him the first triathlete to win the Elite and Under-23 Australian Olympic Distance and Elite and Under-23 Sprint Distance championships in one season.

It leaves the 20-year-old rising star confident heading into his World Tri- Series debut in Auckland on March 28.

Birtwhistle blitzed the 750m swim, 20km ride and 5km run in a time of 54 minutes and 58 seconds ahead of German Christopher Hettich (55.21) with Canadian Tyler Mislawchuk (55.29) third across the line.

The win was all the more impressive as it came amid a full training load in preparation for the Auckland race.

“It’s the second elite Australian title in the space of a couple of weeks so that’s pretty nice,” Birtwhistle said.

“I’ve had a pretty big week of training so I wasn’t really expecting to be at my best today so it’s good to go out there and still get results even though I know I’m not at my best.

“We’ve trained through it because we can’t afford to ease up the training at this stage but it was too good an opportunity to be here and not race when it’s basically home town.”

The early victories mean 2015 is shaping as a breakout year for Birtwhistle who will continue his preparation at the ITU World Cup event in Mooloolaba on Saturday before travelling to Auckland. There he will be one of three Australians on the start alongside Wollongong Wizards elite training squad members and Commonwealth Games reps Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie.

“That’s the focus point because I’ve got to go there and be prepared for the toughest race of my life.

“It’s very exciting to be up at that level racing, hopefully I can go there and go all right.”

Wollongong-based Canadian duo Amelie Kretz and Sarah-Anne Brault managed a one-two in the women’s race with Kretz first across the line in just over an hour while Hungarian Margit Vanek was third. NSW young-gun Natalie Van Coevorden finished fourth.

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