Australian triathlete Tim Van Berkel looked cool and in-control despite humid North Queensland conditions, as he out-ran and outlasted a strong international field to win Ironman Cairns and claim the Asia-Pacific Championship title.
Van Berkel started the run leg 14 minutes behind the race leaders but quickly made up ground, posting some exceptional split times. He took the lead from race favourite and defending champion Luke McKenzie at the 18km mark and led the race to the finish.
Van Berkel finished in a time of 8:15:02, shaving 2 seconds off the course record held by Dave Dellow, who finished this year’s race in second place. 2012 World Champion Pete Jacobs, for his part, took third place, giving the Aussies a clean sweep of the line honours.
Before the race, Van Berkel indicated that he was keen to finally win at Cairns after two second places there in the last two years. “Cairns has been good to me in the past, but it would definitely be nice to get a win and I’d love to grab that Asia-Pacific title,” he said in an interview.
Van Berkel was relieved and excited to win today’s race. Immediately after crossing the line, he told media, “finally! I’m over the moon to finally get a win and the Asia-Pacific title. I am absolutely stoked.”
Van Berkel had already qualified for a spot at Ironman Hawaii, but his results earlier this year in South Africa and Vietnam and today’s win at IM Cairns are indicators of his return to top form. Commentators now see him as a strong contender at the 2016 World Championships in Kona.