Ashleigh Gentle was eighth into T2 but moved her way through the field on the run to make up nearly seven minutes and pick up the $100,000 winners cheque at the inaugural PTO US Open.
This was another big win for the Australian, after also winning the PTO Canadian Open. In her first race since May, Taylor Knibb finished second after leading for the vast majority of the day, and Lucy Charles-Barclay was third on her continued injury return.
Swim – Knibb jumps on the fast feet
It was no real surprise to see Charles-Barclay dive into an immediate swim lead at the start of the two-lap, non wetsuit swim. Taylor Knibb managed to jump onto her feet and stubbornly stay there throughout the whole 2km. Charles-Barclay exited after 27:02 with Knibb just two seconds behind.
Rebecca Clarke was third out of the water and Flora Duffy exited just behind in fourth place – uncharacteristically, the Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion was over a minute down on Charles-Barclay.
Knibb lost time in transition compared to the Brit as she had to remove her swim skin, but took off at speed on the bike.
Bike – Bottle bother for LCB
Knibb more than made up for lost time on the bike. She passed Charles-Barclay within the first two kilometres of the 80km ride and never relinquished her lead.
Charles-Barclay saw a nutrition bottle fly off the back of her bike after just 20km and also slowed to a stop to adjust her problematic gears. Her next bottle also stubbornly refused to go into the rear mounted cage and ended up being stuffed down the front of her trisuit, until it too ended up on the floor. With the mercury rising, not a day for such problems.
By the time they reached T2, Knibb was 3:47 ahead of Charles-Barclay with Duffy now 6:14 behind, alongside Paula Findlay, Holly Lawrence, Lisa Norden and Sarissa de Vries. Gentle was 6:54 down in eighth place, alongside Rebecca Clarke and Fenella Langridge.
Run – Gentle strides to victory
Knibb started well but was suffering in the heat and reduced to a walk at times by half way around the 18km course. Charles-Barclay found a rhythm, but looked somewhat laboured. That was likely a combination of the conditions, her hydration problems on the bike plus of course the continued rebuilding from her injury.
By contrast, Ashleigh Gentle was running through the field at pace, passing Duffy, Norden, Findlay and Lawrence on the way. She took the lead from Knibb on the final run lap of five.
Surprising even herself, she said: “I absolutely didn’t expect to run into the win today.”
Knibb hung on for second place and $70,000 in her first race since May. Charles-Barclay took third place and was rightly content with her continued return to the top of the sport – despite the issues with her hydration and gears.
She said: “I had my fair share of nightmares. I think my battery must have died or overheated. When things don’t go quite right, I think I just have to tough it out. I couldn’t have even dreamed of this at the beginning of the year, so I’ll take it.”
PTO US Open 2022 Results – Pro Women
Saturday September 17, 2022 – 2km / 80km / 18km – Dallas
- 1. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), 3:37:18
- 2. Taylor Knibb (USA), 3:38:33
- 3. Lucy Charles Barclay (GBR), 3:40:32
- 4. Holly Lawrence (GBR), 3:43:38
- 5. Lisa Norden (SWE), 3:44:50
- 6. Flora Duffy (BER), 3:45:18
- 7. Jocelyn McCauley (USA), 345:35
- 8. Rebecca Clarke (NZL), 3:47:01
- 9. Kat Matthews (GBR), 3:48:34
- 10. Paula Findlay (CAN), 3:49:09