TIGHT muscles and a quick final transition – both those elements were critical in deciding the long course honours in Sunday’s Bathurst Wallabies Triathlon Club’s race.
Nick North, who had scorched to victory in the two prior long course races this season, looked headed for a hat-trick of wins as he held a lead of over a minute heading into the final run leg.
But as he felt tightness in his Achilles and calf muscles, North decided to withdraw as a precaution rather than risk injury.
That handed Mark Windsor the lead, as he had emerged from the final transition fractionally ahead of Josh Stapley then pushed hard to increase that gap in the first half of the five kilometre run.
Windsor went on to claim the honours in 53 minutes, 20 seconds, with Stapley (56.19) second and Tom Hanrahan (56.31) third.
“I have a good run leg if I can get it going, but I’ve had a bit of a rough spell, a bit of surgery and stuff. So I thought I couldn’t let Josh stay with me, I had to go full gas,” Windsor said.
“I won’t blow, but if he can stay with me, he will [out] sprint me, he knew that too.
“I know I can’t let him stay with me, I’ve got to attack him. I got a good change for once and I thought if I can get a bit of a gap here, then Josh won’t get on and he’ll battle.
“It was all in that change and that’s where it’s great racing, if you can do those sort of changes. It is especially important for me.
“Nick, I was worried about him because he hasn’t done a lot the last couple of weeks after he’d been working full gas and that’s when you can do a muscle. You don’t want to do a muscle.”
Before that critical final transition from cycle to run, which Windsor completed 10 seconds faster than Stapley, it was North who impressed.
In the 500 metre swim he opened up a lead of close to 50 seconds over Stapley, while Hanrahan was third to head out on the 16.5 kilometre cycle.
North put more time into his rivals as he powered through that leg, and given his strength in the run, looked headed for victory.
But before he completed the first 2.5km lap of the run course, muscle tightness saw North withdraw.
It meant there would be a new long course winner and it loomed as a battle between Stapley and Windsor.
Stapley was 1:23 ahead of Windsor as he began his cycle leg, but Windsor’s strength on the bike saw him able to catch his younger rival thanks to a 23.08 spilt.
It was the quickest of the long course competitors, but as they headed into final transition, just 21 seconds separated them. Windsor added another 10 seconds to that advantage as he set off on the run.
From there Windsor pushed hard to increase his advantage and take the honours, clocking a 20.50 run split.
Realising he was not going to catch Windsor, Stapley (24.18 split) clearly eased things back but still ensured that he did enough to stay ahead of Hanrahan (23.17 split).