Cameron Wurf has starred for his INEOS Grenadiers cycling team this year, including helping team mate Dylan van Baarle to victory at the Paris-Roubaix, one of the most demanding single day cycling events in the world, and now has his sights on this weekend’s IRONMAN World Championship.
The Tasmanian said that he took a lot out of that day in northern France last month.
“It was a really special day and special to be a part of,” said Wurf. “When I got on the radio, obviously there was a lot of stuff all day but early on my role was chasing down a lot of attacks and making sure the right breakaway was away. It was about after 30 or 40km, they said in the car that it was hard at the back and everyone was struggling I was like well that’s great news because I’m about to blow up like a cheap watch.
“Then we went and chased another couple of moves and now I’ve got lactate coming out my eyeballs and next thing you hear over the radio is ‘guys it’s splitting’ and I hadn’t seen van der Poel or Wout van Aert all day and I knew they were back there and so we all got together and just rode as hard as we could to force a gap,” he said. “In a race like that it’s pretty special to have a front group of 50 riders and your whole team’s there.
“Then obviously we got close to the cobbles, and they came over the radio and said ok Cameron you need to take it easy a bit because you’re going to have to lead the guys onto the cobbles for the first few sectors and that gave me goosebumps to be honest,” said Wurf. “We hit the cobbles and honestly it felt like being in Kona, like the first year with Sebby (Kienle) and Lionel (Sanders) up there on the bike and finally skipping away from them and then being on my own. I love stealing Sebby’s quotes, but I love being up in the sun, up the front on the camera where you know all of a sudden everyone is watching you on the front of the peloton, hitting the famous cobble stones in Roubaix.
“Then your teammate goes on and wins and it’s all the more special because a race like that, it generally is a bit more like an IRONMAN, you just happen to have this freaky athlete on your team who steamrolls his way through the race and wins but on that occasion as a group we had such a great performance and so it was really special to be a part of that,” he said.
The 38-year-old finished fifth at the last IRONMAN World Championship in Kona in 2019, claiming victory at IRONMAN Copenhagen last year, while also juggling his cycling duties.
His commitments with the INEOS Grenadiers meant that Wurf wasn’t able to confirm that he would be on the start line in St. George until the last minute.
“Obviously I would love to come and would love to have planned to come but the reality is I’m on call for pretty much every race and the Giro is going on next week and I could have been called up for that so there were no guarantees I could even be here in St. George until a few days ago,” said Wurf. “But being at Roubaix and actually being a part of it the way we were, being how big a day it was it reminds you how fortunate you are to be able to compete at the highest level. My wife said to me a couple of weeks ago, ‘you wanted to be the big guy that said you could do both sports so you get yourself on that plane and take us with you and go and take on these guys and prove you can do it’.
“I’m really grateful to be here, it’s a huge privilege,” he said. “When I started this, I always thought about the prospect of being able to do both sports at the highest level but the reality of being able to sit here amongst these guys and genuinely feel like I have a chance to be competitive on Saturday after the experience I had just a couple of weeks ago on the road bike, I never imagined it would be like this so I’m just really grateful to be here and can’t wait to get stuck in to them.”
Wurf’s cycling pedigree has meant that much of the focus has been on what he could do during the 180km ride but he’s keen to also show what he can do in the water.
“I’d like to think I can swim as well. To be honest it’s funny, people always want to talk about the bike and how you’re going to approach that, but I never make any plans for the race until I get out of the water,” he said. “In Kona the first year I had Lucy Charles under my armpit, I had to get through the women’s field before I even started chasing the men’s field down and then of course in Italy that year I was able to swim at the front with great swimmers like Tim Don etcetera and obviously ride away and then I actually broke the run course record on that day as well, so yeah for me it’s about getting through the swim. I’ve got no idea where I’ll be, as I said I’ve had some really good swims and terrible swims so get through that and go from there.