A rare chance to properly prepare and a field missing some usual suspects has long-distance specialist Josh Amberger in prime position to complete a long-held Noosa Triathlon “dream”.
The Ironman 70.3 winner is a threat in a 28-strong elite men’s field without a previous winner, while fiance Ashleigh Gentle is a hot favourite to clinch an eighth title.
A strong swimmer, Amberger’s long-distance pursuits usually mean he’s swallowed up on the run leg of the popular race.
But with Hawaii’s world championship cancelled because of COVID it’s created a Noosa training window.
“So I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been for this event for maybe 10 years,” he said.
“The field’s right open; missing (Olympians) Jake Birtwhistle and Aaron Royle, and (South African) Henri Schoeman … they’re the kind of guys I look for on the start list and see and count down from them.
‘I’ve got a chance for career best result, or a win if I get lucky.
“It was always kind of the dream, to both be on top of the podium, so it’d be amazing to seal the deal.”
Two-time Olympian Gentle is on a mission after a disappointing Tokyo campaign and has enjoyed training with the man she was due to marry next month before COVID-19 concerns prompted them to postpone.
“If he wants to listen to me, I’d tell him he needs to get away in the water,” she smirked.
“He’s been pretty impressive getting his speed up … if he can get a gap he is in for a chance.
“It’d be awesome to both get a good result; it’s definitely motivating, I enjoy being on the same race course, rarely do we get to do it.”
Last year’s event was a casualty of the pandemic but about 9,000 competitors are expected across the festival in 2021.
Rio Olympican Ryan Fisher, a two-time runner-up in Noosa, will be a main threat while in-form Dutch athlete Lotte Wilms could push Gentle.