Having won two PTO Tour events last season in Edmonton and Dallas, Australian Ashleigh Gentle has now made it two runner-up finishes from two this year, with second to Taylor Knibb at the PTO Tour US Open this past weekend coming after she finished behind Anne Haug at the PTO Tour European Open in May.
Whilst the PTO World #1 admitted she was a little disappointed not to take the win, she remained proud of her performance, which saw the roles reversed after beating Knibb to the top spot at the same race last year. With another shot at a win in Singapore at the PTO Tour Asian Open in two weeks time, Gentle remains one of the very best over the 100km distance.
“I gave it 110%”
Recounting just how brutal the race was, Gentle was adamant that she couldn’t have done any more, tipping her hat to Knibb for a performance that was just better than what the Aussie could produce on the day.
“It’s probably a bit of both [Congratulations and commiserations]. It would’ve been nice to have defended my title but I gave it 110% and I can’t be disappointed, Taylor was the better athlete on the day and she had a phenomenal race. It hurts to lose, but how can you be disappointed when you lose like that to Taylor.”
Adding that it was a tough but strong race across the board, with her swim and bike legs in particular something she had worked hard on, Gentle said that the riding was especially ferocious in Milwaukee, which led her to doubt at times just how much she would have left in the tank on the run.
“I guess a lot of people talk about my run because it’s my strength, but I really tried to swim as best I could today and I had a lot of faith in my cycling too. I am not a cyclist like Taylor but I do think my riding is really strong.
“I wanted to try and hang with those people like Paula [Findlay], who is a really great cyclist and it definitely wasn’t easy as I put a lot of work in at the start, which I think I paid for when Lucy [Byram] came flying past.
“It’s definitely difficult because it is on me to bridge that gap, but when you have a strength like me in the run you don’t have many friends, so it was a tough race but I’m really happy.”
“I just had to trust my run legs would come”
Asked what she would change about the race if she could, Gentle again reiterated just how hard the bike was and said that the intensity caused her to take on less nutrition than she had planned, something that might’ve come back to bite her.
“I think I would have tried to nail my nutrition a little better if I could do anything differently, but it was so hard and so fast that I think there were periods that I just forgot to take on my nutrition and I did pay for it a little on the back end.
“I was a little concerned when I came off the bike and didn’t feel great, I never do off the bike, but I just had to trust my run legs would come and took on a little nutrition at the start of the first lap.”
With the PTO Tour Asian Open just around the corner, Gentle was quizzed on what she had planned over the next fortnight, with the Australian saying that she wasn’t ready to think about the race itself, but was excited to see friends and family soon.
“I do not want to think about that now! Singapore is brutal, but I will definitely try and get some recovery in and then speak to my coach. I have only got a week in Boulder before flying to Singapore, so it will come around quickly, but I am really excited because I have been living out of a suitcase and will get to see my friends and family there soon.”