Royle 11th in wild finish to Rio warm-up

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Aaron Royle at the World Triathlon Series race on the Gold Coast in April. Picture: Getty ImagesNewcastle trathleteAaron Royle has finished 11thin his final race hitout before the Olympic Games.

Royle trailed countrymenJake Birtwhistle (second) and Olympics teammate Ryan Ballie (fifth) in the World Triathlon Series sprint race in Hamburg on Saturday.

Royle and Bailie are both focusing on Rio and were coming off a period of hard training.

Birtwhistle, last year’s International Triathlon Union under-23 world champion, was elevated to silver in Germany after a weird and wild finish to the race.

The 21-year-old produced the race of his life then watched his name shuffle from third to fourth and back to third before finally he claimedthe second placing.

Birtwhistle surged into third on the finish line, behind Spain’s WTS leader Mario Mola and angry South African Richard Murray, who had served a 10-second penalty for placing his wetsuit in the wrong gear box.

The Tasmanian produced a fist pump as he crossed the line, butSpain’s Fernando Alarza flashed home on his outside and the electronic scoreboard was quick to lodge Alarza as third before a photo finish confirmed Birtwhistle officially third.

But the podium was far from settled. Murray, who stopped to serve the penalty before the finish shoot, remonstratedwith the ITU technical official, shouting: “What for? What for?”

He then resumed his raging run to the line, making gestures as he went.He was still upset anddemanding answers from officials after crossing the line, and theydisqualified him for “unsportsmanlike behaviour”.

In the end, Birtwhistle was awarded his best podium finish and Australia’s best male performance in a WTS race since Brad Kahlefeldt won Hamburg in 2011.