The Sunshine Coast will play host to the return of IRONMAN 70.3 racing, with more than 1,500 athletes and 30 of Australia’s top professionals taking on the 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run in the heart of Mooloolaba.
In the elite men’s field, we’ll see a mix of triathlon’s experienced and next generation go head-to-head including the likes of Rio 2016 Olympian Ryan Fisher, Josh Amberger and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Australia representative Luke Willian. In the women’s, 2018 Commonwealth Games Australia representative Gillian Backhouse returns for her second IRONMAN 70.3 after making her debut at the Sunshine Coast event in 2020.
While Sarah Crowley returns to World Triathlon racing as a former World Champion (from the 2017 Penticton ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships), Sunday’s race in Netherlands marks Renee Kiley’s first World Triathlon World Championships race start.
Crowley will race for the third weekend in a row after a back-to-back schedule of Challenge Roth (5 Sep) and the inaugural Collins Cup (28 Aug), and Kiley after a recent personal best IRONMAN performance earning Silver in Hamburg (29 Aug) and with it, a Kona qualification spot for the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship.
Joining our Aussie women in Almere is new-on-the-scene Adam Hansen, better known for his cycling career, who also makes his World Triathlon debut after making the move from UCI WorldTour racing, at the end of 2020, to focus on IRONMAN racing full-time in 2021.
Not far away, Super League Championship Series 2021 racing kicks on in Germany where Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Olympians Jake Birtwhistle, Aaron Royle and Matt Hauser will continue competition in Race 2 MUNICH’21 over the Equalizer Format.
The innovative format will see athletes race over an intense two stages – the first an Individual Time Trial (ITT), and the second stage a continuous swim-bike-run-swim-bike-run with a pursuit start determined by the finish times of Stage 1.
Stage 1 will see all three Aussie athletes put in their best effort on the bike before setting up for stage 2, pursuit style racing. Matt Hauser will be the hunted after posting the fastest swim time in Race 1 LONDON’21 and earning the Swim Leader Jersey, as well as Jake Birtwhistle who has a strong run leg – posting the fastest run at Tokyo in the Mixed Relay and in Montreal over the Super Sprint distance, while Aaron Royle’s versatility will be on show – who this time last year took line honours at IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast.
“I’m pretty excited, I did the event last year and it was my first IRONMAN 70.3 but I did it in the middle of a block of short course racing, more because it was there to do, whereas this year I’ve actually been preparing for it more specifically,” said Backhouse. “I’ve done a lot more work on the bike than last year, training has been going really well so I’m excited to see what I can do on the bike on race day.
“It feels a lot different, last year I had no idea what I was in for, having never done anything that length before, as well as having not focused on it in training,” she said. “I had no expectations on myself either, whereas this time around the training has been a lot more focused on IRONMAN 70.3 and with the experience I know how much it’s going to hurt, but also have a bit more idea of what I can actually do, the power I want to push on the bike and how fast I want to run, as well as having a bit more expectation in terms of result.”
Backhouse finished eighth in last year’s event among a competitive elite women’s contingent which included fellow Aussies Sarah Crowley (2nd) and Renee Kiley (5th) who’ll be switching Mooloolaba for Almere-Amsterdam this year for the 2021 World Triathlon Long Distance World Championships.