CONTENDER: Aaron Royle was runner-up in last year's Noosa Triathlon.
CONTENDER: Aaron Royle was runner-up in last year's Noosa Triathlon. Warren Lynam

Two-time Noosa Tri winner hits form in time for another tilt

TRIATHLON: Aaron Royle will attempt to capture a third Noosa Triathlon crown this weekend, bolstered by an imposing victory at Penrith on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has endured an "off" year but will head to the iconic event with a significant morale boost, after beating a field including Olympian Ryan Bailie at the Nepean Triathlon.

He covered the 1km swim, 30km bike and 10km run in 1hr 28min 23sec.

"It gives me a bit of confidence going into Noosa, knowing that what I'm doing is on the right track," he said.

"If I can replicate, if not go a bit better than I did at the Nepean, then I should be in with a good chance of claiming a third title."

Royle's performance at Penrith was one of the most eye-catching there in recent years.

He overcame an eight-minute handicap to women's winner Ashleigh Gentle, passing her with 3km remaining.

It was his fifth triumph in Australia's oldest triathlon race.

But he won't head to this weekend's event overconfident.

"There were a couple of really good athletes who weren't at the Nepean, like Jake Birtwhistle and Ryan Fisher, so I know it's going to go up another level in Noosa and I'll have to raise myself as well."

Royle finished runner-up to world No.3 Birtwhistle at Noosa last time around.

And this season, he's endured "a bit of a tough year".

"I just never really found my groove," he said. "There were a few races here and there I was happy with but it (otherwise) didn't seem to click for me.

"When that happens you sort of find yourself forcing things a bit and that never really works in your favour.We're two years out from the Olympics so if I was going to have an off year this was the time to have it.

"Next year there's an Olympic qualification race so that will be the main aim. After Noosa, I'll have a break and then it will be all go, trying to qualify for Tokyo."

Royle has no qualms about doing two events in eight days.

"Some people don't like to do the Nepean and Noosa because they feel it wears them out but I feel it (the former) gets you ready to go and hopefully by Noosa I'll be (firing on) all cylinders."

He did the Nepean-Noosa double in 2013 and 2014.


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