Tim took second last year at Cairns. Will he go one better in 2014?
CAIRNS, Australia (June 3, 2014) – At the 2013 edition of Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns it was Aussie Luke McKenzie who claimed his sixth IRONMAN title. It was a drought breaking performance that lead to a career defining 2nd place at the IRONMAN Hawaii World Championships.
Port Macquarie’s Tim Van Berkel is in the midst of a similar drought, having last tasted IRONMAN glory at IRONMAN Western Australia in 2008.
He’s hoping a win at Sunday’s Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns can provide a springboard to a big year and a strong performance at IRONMAN Hawaii in October.
Berkel comes into the race with that winning feeling on the back of first place at IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton.
â€œI’m pretty hungry this year. I have been targeting this race all year,â€ Berkel said.
â€œIRONMAN titles are hard to come by, but I did win IRONMAN Western Australia in 08. I’m hoping to win another one, it has been a while.â€
Standing in his way will be one of the sport’s most enduring athletes New Zealand’s Cameron Brown.
A 10 time IRONMAN New Zealand Champion Brown himself has been absent from the podium’s top spot since his 2011 win, the longest stretch in his career without an IRONMAN title.
By his own admission 2013 was a year to forget, and one he describes as the worst of his career.
â€œLast year was a complete right off and was one of my worst years in the sport. I ended up shortening my season and had seven weeks totally off in August. It did me a world of good and I came back mentally and physically fresher,â€ he said.
â€œI can’t wait until I race again and to get back into some warm weather, I love the bike ride up to Port Douglas, you can’t beat that view.â€
Brown and Berkel have already battled each other once this year, at March’s IRONMAN New Zealand, exiting the water within seconds of each other, spending the next four plus hours together on the bike before brown pulled away during the marathon to finish 2nd, while Berkel ended the race just off the podium in 4th.
â€œI’m looking forward to racing Brownie again. I wasn’t anywhere near race fitness in IRONMAN New Zealand , I was there to earn points. I have some good form now but I still think he is going to be very hard to beat, the guy has Ironman racing dialled in,â€ Berkel said.
â€œI’m after a good solid performance, hopefully if I can have another race like I did at IRONMAN New Zealand I’ll be right up there. The training has been going well and I’m now in the taper mode and starting to feel better.â€
While the winner is likely to come from either Berkel or Brown they won’t have things their own way in Cairns with a field stacked of talented and experienced athletes assembled. In this last season as a professional, IRONMAN stalwart Jason Shortis, will be looking to go out with a good result after a poor bike leg hampered his efforts to make the podium at IRONMAN Australia last month.
Standing betweenÂ between both Berkel and Brown and the finishline will be Jimmy Johnsen and Peter Robertson. Â Three time Olympic distance champion Robertson will also be looking for a good result after illness forced him to withdraw at IRONMAN Australia and Denmark’s Jimmy Johnsen, the 2012 IRONMAN Western Australia champion, to be at the pointy end of the field.
Robertson is still new at the long distance game but he is a fast learner and his result in Melbourne this year will have given him some confidence that he can step up overÂ the Ironman distance.
Johnsen has tasted victory over this distance before and he can produce a veryÂ fast run.Â In Melbourne this year he ran a 2:51:54. If he is there off the bike he could be dangerous.