In an extraordinary turn of events the 22-year-old charged down the finish chute believing he was about to win his first WTS race – only to realise he had only completed two of the scheduled three laps of the five kilometre Sprint Distance course after the 750m swim and 20 kilometre bike.
Half-way down the blue carpet chute and realising his mistake, the long legged former Under 23 world champion who just two weeks ago anchored Australia to the World Teams title, hurdled the barriers and kept running. He was eventually caught by two-time and defending WTS champion, Spain's Mario Mola, who bolted away to win his fourth race of the season.
But despite his legs burning, Birtwhistle dug deep to produce an incredible final 1.5km lap to keep bronze medallist South African Richard Murray at bay and claim a memorable silver medal.
I think this article sums up the day pretty well, so I'll just add; my bad!
Race highlights below. *incident from 2.30
Aside from the obvious, I left Edmonton pretty happy. It was a big confidence boost for me to manage to stuff up so badly, but still claim the second step on the podium ahead of one of the strongest WTS fields of the year. To be able to push on for an extra lap after emptying the tank shows me know that I can go deeper than I thought possible which is pretty exciting to take forward into my future races.
Birtwhistle admitted he got to the front too easy and then doubted himself.
“But in the end the damage wasn’t too bad and I finished off ok,” Birtwhistle said.
Imagine getting to the end of a hard session and your coach makes you do another rep. In that next rep you have to hold off Gomez, Brownlee and have a sprint finish with Richard Murray... not a real nice thought is it?
And the final words belong to commentator Shepley who said: “This kid from Down Under is going to be a superstar one day and when he learns how to count he may even win a race.”
Montreal WTS the following weekend was brutal! I had some time to make up after one of the roughest swims I've ever had which meant I had to really work the bike hard. With just a few other riders either willing or able to help, it made for a tough ride and once we started to get really close, there was two crashes within the lap and I lost the help of the stronger riders who were unfortunately taken out of the race. Entering transition for the penultimate time on the bike I had finally caught the main group, but I destroyed myself in doing so. After forcing my way into a good position in the group my legs seemed to have had enough, the very last time heading up the hill was one too many and I popped. In that last lap I lost more time than what I had gained over the eight laps prior, and still 10km to remain.
The 22-year-old Tasmanian’s day didn’t get any better, the spent silver medallist from Hamburg and Edmonton, jogging across the line in 40th place.
Results aside, Montreal put on a great event, and the atmosphere was amazing. One very significant factor in me making my way to the finish line.
Next up for me is Rotterdam WTS, I am looking forward to lining up again with the number 44 on my race suit as the 44th male athlete to represent Aus at the World Championships or grand final.
The following weekend, Super League is back, this time in Jersey!
An island shaped by the sea where some of the most astonishing tides in the world circle the coast and feed the land. An island that's small on size, but big on personality, where country lanes open to cliff top views and the sea is never more than ten minutes away.
Over two days you can see a Triple Mix competing three stages with alternating sequences of swim, bike and run. With Sunday features an Eliminator race that again features three stages with the top 16 from the first race moving to the second round, with the top 10 from that race heading into the final.
I’m looking forward to lining back up in the Super League suit to fight for the top spot on the podium once again. This time we know what to expect, so the racing is going to be stepped up once again!