Royle, Bailie and Fisher ready to roll in Thursday’s Olympic triathlon debuts

Published 17 August 2016 (AEDT)

Australian triathlon team receive their racing suits from Rohan Dennis © AOC

TRIATHLON: Australia’s next generation of Olympic male triathletes Aaron Royle, Ryan Bailie and Ryan Fisher have arrived in Ipanema Beach - ready, willing and able to shake up Thursday’s Rio race – 16 years and four Olympics since the sport debuted in Sydney.

The women’s team of history making triple Olympians Emma Moffatt and Erin Densham and Games debutant Ashleigh Gentle will race on Saturday. Both races will start at 11am Rio time (Midnight AEST).

The Australian team spent several days camped in the Olympic Village, getting a feel for their first Games experience – soaking up the atmosphere that brings together the world’s best athletes every four years.

But it’s been down to business in recent days as they sidestepped any distractions to join the “Copa crew” – Australia’s open water swimmers, rowers, yachtsmen, road cyclists, beach volleyballers, along with the canoe-kayakers, who have reveled in their “Olympic home-away-from-home.”

The boys have been presented with their Rio race suits by two-time Olympic cyclist and Tour de France rider Rohan Dennis – the final piece in their preparation for their Olympic debuts.

And despite a spectacular tumble in last year’s Rio Test Event, Bailie is confident one of the toughest ever Olympic courses will suit the boys in the green and gold.

“There is no reason why we can’t be up towards the top end of the field,” said Bailie, who landed on his feet and then got back in his bike to finish the course.

“It is definitely a course that suits us Australians and come race day we’ll be ready to give it our all.

“And if Copa Beach can turn on a wave and some chop then that will also suit us Aussies in the swim as well.”

Bailie has been one of the real movers along with team mate Royle on the World Triathlon Series circuit over the past three years, with Fisher really racing into his own in the Games selection period to earn an Olympic discretionary spot over the past 18 months.

The course will see the field of 56 take off with a 1500m one lap swim off the Copacabana surf beach, which has seen a half-metre shore break in recent days; before the grueling 40km bike course made up of eight-five kilometre laps and the 10km run, consisting of four laps along the world famous Copacabana beach front.

The bike course will feature a steep incline and then down a steep descent before a smaller hill and onto the flat.

“It’s certainly different to what we are used to racing that’s for sure,” said Fisher.

“A lot of the courses these days seem pretty flat but this one is going to be testing and it might change some of the athletes that do well and like Ryan said it’s a course that suits all of us Australian boys so I think it’s exciting.”

Royle certainly mastered the course last year in the Test Event, securing his place on the Australian team with an automatic nomination.

‘It’s just great to finally get here and Ryan and I have been training well together and everything’s on track,” said Royle.

He and Bailie have been preparing under Australian Olympic team coach Jamie Turner in Spain’s Basque Country in Vitoria but specialist “hill climbing” in their home training base in Wollongong and then in the hills around Tuner’s home in New Plymouth (NZ) will have the pair ready to roll.

Brisbane boy Fisher has been in Girona, Spain under his personal coach, Olympic Team coach, Shaun Stephens, where he has put the finishing touches to his Rio Games debut.

Australian men have been well represented in the four Olympic triathlons - without winning a medal with Greg Bennett (fourth in Athens in 2004); Miles Stewart (sixth in 2000) and Simon Thompson (10th in Athens in 2004) securing the best results.

Great Britain’s Brownlee brothers – defending Olympic champion Alistair and London bronze medallist, younger brother Jonathan will again be the pair to beat in what will be one of the most testing Olympic triathlons.

Of the London top ten only Switzerland’s Athens bronze medallist Sven Riederer, who is clocking up his fourth Olympic appearance Russian Alexander Bryukhankov and Italy’s Alessandro Fabian will line up four years later.

Ian Hanson

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