By Karl Hayes
Finish Photo: Melbourne photographer, Blinq photography
Tim Berkel showed how strong he is at the moment after backing up from a solid second place performance at Port Macquarie 70.3 last weekend to overtake the race leader off the bike, Guy Crawford, and power away from Matty White (2nd) and Tim Reed (3rd) to take out the 2011 Busselton 70.3. His 1:13:48 run split proved to good for the field. This followed on from his 1:15 run in Port Macquarie last weekend on a tough day.
Tim Berkel is looking very good for this year with a solid base having been put together at Lennox Heads with the Aeromax Team.
Berkel’s performance may have been spurred on by the huge outdoor posters advertising this weekend’s race around Busselton. Tim Reed was glowing in his acknowledgement of Berkel having made the big time and being showcased on these posters on Twitter this week.
Guy Crawford got a lot of points from the boys racing today when he took it to the field with a fast 23:22 swim and an equally fast 2:08:50 on the bike. He backed himself and will no doubt have taken a lot away from the race. Eventually it came back and tapped him on the shoulder in the run and his 1:23 possibly showed how much he put in in the first two legs.
“My plan was to swim at the front and get a gap on the boys if I could. Turns out I had the stronger swim and lead for the whole swim. After a quick transition I was on the bike an straight to race pace. I looked back after 1-2min and the road was clear. Now here I had an issue.. sit back and wait for the guys to come past or just go? I went”
Crawford was feeling good on the bike and was pushing hard. “I noticed the guys weren’t making any ground on me. I thought I might as well go for it and hope I packed my run legs.” Off the bike Crawford had a 2:30 lead on the guys and 3mins on the main pack. “I really needed 5 mins and to run a 1:18 however it turns out I only packed my 1:23 run legs instead of my 1:18 run legs and it wasn’t enough to hold the guys off. (if any-one finds my 1:18 legs, please return to sender).
Guy Crawford’s swim-bike combo is getting there and while he may have run a little slower than he wanted everything is looking good for the Northern Hemisphere season ahead.
Matty White was very crook when I saw him last weekend in Port Macquarie. He obviously sorted himself out during the week with a good dose of antibiotics. Matty got off to a good start in the swim coming out a minute behind the three leaders. “The swim started quite fast and I settled into a good pace swimming with Whistler, Griffen, Berkel etc.”
Due to being sick and not feeling great all week Matty decided to be conservative on the bike. “After Port I decided to really focus on a good run and just keep everyone in check. Toward the end of the bike things got a bit congested as we caught the age groupers and that was when Josh Rix and Jamie Whyte made a small 30 seconds jump toward transition, myself and a few of the other guys had no idea as things were so congested on lap 2.”
In the early stages of the run Matty concentrated on his own pace to make sure that he didn’t blow up with the remnants of the previous weeks flu still hanging around. “I was caught at the 3km mark by Tim Reed and a heavy breathing Dellow and Leon Griffin. I held onto the back of these guys for the remainder of lap 1. I noticed Griffin drop back and Dellow looked like he was hurting and so was I. I let the boys go and just concentrated on my own pace knowing that Tim Reed had raced hard the week before and I thought the effort might catch up to him. At about the 10km mark I ran passed Dellow and noticed Reed up ahead who I was gaining on. I started to feel great and really light on my feet passing Reed who had run out of gnome juice for 2nd place.”
Tim Reed really came to life today and was right in the mix until Berkel pulled away in the run and White eventually put a minute on him in the run. At the end of the race it was fairly close between the top three.Tim took a different tactic at Busselton to start the race. “After copping too many elbows to my head last week at Port Macquarie I decided to start very wide to avoid swimming with the pack as I had confidence in my swim and my brand spanking Zoot prophet wetsuit that I wouldn’t need to draft too much to get through swim to be where I needed to be. Bryan Rhodes, Dave Dellow and Guy Crawford made the expected break soon after the first turning bouey. Guy put the surge on Rhodsey pipping him for the swim prime with Dellow getting out on their feet.”
On the bike even with the 12m draft rule there is a benefit to riding with a group. With Guy Crawford gapping the field Reed stuck with the chase pack. “I tried to keep my legs fresh waiting for what I thought would be imminent attacks from Ollie Whistler, Rhodsey, Josh Rix and possibly Matty White however no such attacks materialised until 5kms to go. I think Ollie Whistlers recent patch of illness and a lot of guys backing up after a really tough ride last week at Port Macquarie 70.3 had left everyone a little bit conservative.”
Berkel tactically moved to the front towards the end of the ride and the guys got caught a little off guard as they hit transition and he gained a small gap of 15 seconds from the outset of the run. That left a chase group of Tim Reed, Matty White, Leon Griffin and Dave Dellow. White and Griffin dropped off so that by 8kms it was just Reed and Dellow holding the 15-20 second gap to Berkel with Jamie, Josh and Guy having been caught early on.
At 14kms Reed had managed to put himself in to second holding about a minute behind Berkel. At this stage White decided to get started and crusied past Reed to eventually take second leaving Reed to bring home third.
Josh Rix struggled last week in Port. He found he lacked energy. Today in Busselton was a different story and he felt like his energy was back. He left Reed, White and Berkel behind with about 10kms to go on the bike but couldn’t hold them off as they came back in the run.
Leon Griffin had a strong bike last week in Port Macquarie putting over four minutes on Berkel, White and Reed. Today was a different story with the three of them coming in off the bike with Griffin. Leon struggled on the run again today but ran significantly faster than his posted time last week. Last week may have seen a few of the pros conserving themselves for Busselton towards the end of the race.