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Tim Berkel and Luke Bell are looking to set the record straight at Ironman Ballarat 70.3

Luke Bell and Tim Berkel will battle it out this Sunday at IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat. We caught up with the two athletes to chat race preparation and strategy.

Pre-Christmas racing can be tough

“It’s pretty hard this time of year. It’s about dragging your ass out there this close to Christmas,” said Luke Bell. “You do enough training so you turn up to the race and you know you’re ready.”

A bumpy bike course threatens flats

Bell, also the Ballarat 70.3 ambassador, is confident despite a disappointing race last year that saw him finish in 22nd after succumbing to a flat tyre.

“I had a five minute lead in the bike last year,” Bell said. “Then I got a flat. It can be tricky because you ride around the cricket ground and park area and it’s quite bumpy. I lost my spare, and some of my nutrition in the park.”

Ballarat 70.3 course

As well as the bumpy start to the bike loop, Bell says it’s handy to be aware the bike course is slower coming back as there’s a slight hill and headwind. “The run is great though. It’s a really honest course and the run around the lake is nice. You go past the crowd three times.”

Bell’s year of injury and setback

Luke Bell has had a tumultuous year throughout 2016. “My year started with a fractured pelvis in January and that took a good six months to recover from,” he said. After recovering well and returning to racing, he was out for a ride when he was hit by a car in late October. Just over a week ago, Bell said on Twitter “Good to be back at it after a short forced 3wk break due to car and bike accident.”

“I was on crutches for two weeks. It was pretty sore, it even hurt doing flip turns in the pool. It was the first time I’ve ever been hit by a car,” Bell told Trizone. “It was the bike frame that actually hit my knee and swelled up like a balloon. That knee plays up anyway, so it doesn’t take much. Lachie got hit too, but he walked away no worries.”

From a fractured pelvis to being hit by a car, it might be time for Bell to have some luck. “I am just looking for any luck in general. That is sport though, it is great when it is good, but you learn to ride the highs and lows,” he said.

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Team Berkel vs. Bell plus other key contenders

Bell is tipped to be the favourite as he knows the course. However, others tip Berkel to win on Sunday thanks to his experience racing in Australia. “This is really the first time we’ve crossed paths in a while at a race. I usually do my races overseas, while Berkel races mostly in Australia,” Bell told Trizone.

Berkel and Bell are known to be good mates, so the rivalry is all in good fun. “I’m going to wipe the floor with Luke Bell,” Berkel joked on Twitter. “Everyone knows we’re friends, so it’ll be a good little hit out,” Berkel told Trizone.

When asked about his race strategy, Tim Van Berkel was candid. “I’d love to finish the year on the podium. I just want to go into Christmas relaxed. I’m going to have a crack that’s for sure, but I’m going into it pretty relaxed,” said Berkel.

Other men to watch are fierce swimmer Sam Betten, who swam a lightning fast swim leg at Challenge Shepparton just a few weeks go. “Clayto (Clayton Fettell) is definitely one to watch, especially early in the swim,” Tim Berkel told Trizone today. “Also Pete Kerr and defending champ Matthew Pellow. The swim will definitely be quick.”

What team are you on? #teamberkel #teambell

With a fierce field of pro men so late in the year, IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat is on of the last opportunities for pros to rack up points in 2016. With Ballarat coining the phrase ‘Battle of Ballarat’ for Sunday’s race pitting Berkal against Bell for the win – What team are you on? #teamberkel #teambell?