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Gentle emulates Snowsill at Noosa Tri

AAP logoAAP 29/10/2016 Jim Morton

Ashleigh Gentle has cemented herself as Australia's new triathlon queen by emulating childhood hero Emma Snowsill with a third straight Noosa crown.

The 25-year-old signed off on a turbulent 2016 with a powerful comeback victory over Sydney's Natalie van Coevorden to win her fourth title at Noosa.

It takes her to within one victory of 2008 Olympic champion Snowsill's record of five wins (2003-05, 2007-08) in the world's largest triathlon.

Until Sunday no other woman had claimed three consecutive Noosa races, but Gentle dug extra deep to complete her hat-trick after starting the 10km run in fourth place.

Despite being one minute 21 seconds behind at the final transition, she grabbed the lead 5km from the line, powering past van Coevorden to win by more than a minute in two hours two minutes 26 seconds.

Gentle, who finished a disappointing 26th in her Olympic debut in Rio, rated the victory even higher than her previous Noosa titles due to the gut-busting effort required at the end of a long and draining season.

"It's just as special and it's probably more special because at some points in the race I didn't think I was going to get that win," she said.

"It was tough and I felt so tired and I felt so sore but I really thought about Noosa and what those four titles would really mean to me and that really urged me on and to never give up."

Former world under-23 champion Charlotte McShane (2:05:03) was third, ahead of New Zealand Olympian Nicky Samuels and 2009 race winner Emma Jackson.

With Olympic teammates Emma Moffatt and Erin Densham retiring after the Rio Games, Gentle and McShane are the two women entrusted with the duty of lifting Australia back to the top of women's triathlon.

A long-time fan of fellow Gold Coaster Snowsill, Gentle was rapt to emulate her Noosa hat-trick but also recognised how much more work she has to do.

"I feel so privileged to have my name up there with her's but she's achieved a lot more than me - she's an Olympic gold medallist and a multiple world champion - so she set the bar so high," she said.

"Australian ladies can always keep working and trying to be better because of the history she has left us."

Van Coevorden was delighted with her second place after last year being disqualified for missing a turn while leading on the 40km bike leg in the Noosa hills and missing 13km of the course.

"Everyone reminded me constantly this week and I just had to laugh it off," she said.

"I wanted to make a statement and be reminded for something different this year and that's what I did."

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