Reigning Noosa Tri champ keen to finish season with flourish
TRIATHLON: World No. 3 Jake Birtwhistle says training with the top two has propelled him to new heights in the sport and he's eager to finish a breakthrough season with a bang at Noosa.
The 23-year-old Australian will attempt to defend his title at the iconic Olympic distance event on November 4, after a whirlwind year.
He's bagged a silver at the Commonwealth Games and three podiums on the World Triathlon Series, to finish the season third in the rankings.
He's benefited from training alongside the world's top two, Mario Mola and Vincent Luis.
"So I literally have the best training partners in the world that you could have. It is really good to train with those guys as they are the main competition," he said via an event press release.
"People always ask is it weird to be training with your main competition but for me it so it is good to see that they are beatable.
"I see them struggle on certain days and I quite enjoy it because it brings them down to a more normal level.
"You don't look at them as some amazing athlete because you know that they struggle sometimes as well. They are no longer on a pedestal or invincible.
"There are still plenty more steps to go for me but I am starting to come into that zone where I am more consistent and can have an off day and still get a reasonable performance," he added.
Birtwhistle, who is also significantly younger than his training partners, has years ahead of him.
But for now, he's focused on finishing his strong season with a flourish at Noosa.
But he will head there somewhat underdone, after crashing on the bike leg at a Super League event in Jersey.
"I got taken out on the bike and wasn't able to finish. So it was 65 hours of travel for 15 minutes of racing which was a bit of a shame."
"I went down quite hard on my right side and took a lot of skin off and had quite bad bruising to my hip. I was barely able to walk on it and that kind of knocked me around and was out of action for a week after that. Then just as things were coming good I got sick.
"(So) the last month hasn't been ideal and training hasn't been amazing but I am kind of hoping that with a bit of a taper and a freshen up, the racer in me will come out.
"I haven't done the work I would normally have done leading into Noosa but I am still going there to win and have a good result. I am hoping the body remembers what to do on race day."
"We started racing in February so it hasn't been easy to keep pushing on late into the year but it is always worth it to catch up with everyone in Noosa because it is a major race in Australia and racing at home isn't something we get to do very often. They have created an amazing event there, so it is always a good one to finish on," he said.