Challenge Gold Coast will throw up a few curve balls when the inaugural fields take to Currumbin Valley this weekend. The course is unknown by most who will be racing it and how this challenging bike course will deal with them remains to be seen.
This race should become an iconic Australian race. The challenge of conquering the bike course will be too strong a draw card for many to resist.
This preview is a work in progress which we will keep developing during the week. The fields are decent and we would like to try to add something on most racing. We will write the women up over the next couple of days.
We have driven around the bike course and loved it! There are four places in this bike course that will shape the race. The first climb section starts at around the 9km mark. The course is flat until this stage and then the climbing starts and lasts until around the 20km mark. At this point we turn and head back along the same road. This down hill will be super fast. The pace lines will be sitting on speeds upwards of 50-60kms an hour for most of the 11kms back before turning to climb the Beast. This climb at about 32kms will then blow a few more out the back as they climb a 10% gradient for a claimed 150mt. We have been up it and it goes for a lot longer than that. You can check out our preview of the bike course by clicking here.
The final challenge on the bike course will be the climb home back up the reverse of the Beast. This is at about 80kms and is a long climb.
So on to the pro field who will be tackling this challenging course. The obvious one is that the strong cyclists will dominate. Amongst the guys Tim Reed and Pete Jacobs would have to be the favourites along with late entrant and recent EU 70.3 Champs second placed Peter Robertson. In saying this Tim Reed will not want to blow himself apart with the world 70.3 champs following closely. We expect to see Reed swim and ride solidly but not turn himself inside out on the run.
Foremost on the minds of a few of the guys racing it the ‘golden ticket’ to Bahrain. Aside from the $35,000 prize pool that is. None more so than Peter Robertson.
Pete Jacobs has been doing some training at Thanyapura in Thailand with Chris McCormack, Caroline Steffen and Casey Munro. With Challenge Roth and Ironman Switzerland under his belt plus a bit of training with Macca he will be very dangerous on the Gold Coast. Jacobs will be wanting to gets some runs on the board in 2014 and this is a home race. Jacobs is obviously one of our favourites. We just need him to turn up with his A Game. One thing for sure is that is after a big training block Jacobs will have rested this week and is looking forward to having fresh legs this Sunday.
You can read our interview with Pete where he talks about his time at Thanyapura with Macca here.
On the race this weekend Pete made the following comment: “It’s an open race and there will likely be a large swim pack, and things will possibly pretty close off the bike too. But who’s legs will be the freshest is the question? Find out after T2.”
Lots of respect needs to be given to David Dellow. The former Cairns Ironman champion and someone who has racked up some good results this year with a 3rd overall at Ironman Melbourne in 8:03 just two minutes behind the winner needs to be considered as a contender for the win. David Dellow has been off the radar a bit since Melbourne. He started Cairns 70.3 but did not finish the race. “I’ve just been at home on the Sunshine Coast this year. With Cairns I haven’t really raced since IM Melbourne.”
Priorities for Dellow this year have seen him focus on finishing his degree. I have stayed home this year and not traveled away for any races or training camps. I am finishing my accounting degree this year and the last few months have been a bit frustrating with a string of minor injuries but I think things are just starting come together now.”
Kona is the one and only goal for Dellow this year. “Because the last few months of training haven’t been great the final push for Kona over the final 7 weeks after Challenge GC are going to be crucial for me.”
Dellow has been self coached this year and apart from swimming with a squad of swimmers does most of his riding and running solo.
Another danger man is Sam Appleton. ‘Appo’ has been developing well as a long course triathlete and with his coach also racing this weekend. In saying this though he may also not choose to turn himself inside out with the goal race being the 70.3 worlds. We think it could be a case of ‘Grasshopper overcoming the Master’ this time with coach Tim Reed also in the race. Training for Appleton has been going well and he is just coming to the end of a big block for Ironman 70.3 world champs. “At this time of year its hard with all the sicknesses floating around so I’ve been a little unwell over the past week but nothing that has me too concerned. I have managed to nail my key sessions and have been able to draw a lot of confidence from those key days”.
The Challenge Gold Coast bike course should suit Appleton. “I’ve been riding really well the past few months so hopefully the hard course can play into my hands a little bit. I am looking to have a hard 90km hit out on the bike as a really good race specific session for 70.3 worlds which is my main focus. The field looks good. There is a number of guys who have the potential to win the race, which will make it an interesting day. I am mainly using this race as a launching pad into worlds but am still aiming to put together a really competitive performance”.
Another key player in this race as mentioned is former 3 x ITU world champion Peter Robertson who is finding his stride in long course triathlon. He finished second overall in the EU 70.3 championship a couple of weekends ago and beat some significant names along the way. His swim and run are dynamite and after seeing his bike split in Wiesbaden on a tough and hilly course maybe Robbo might be the one to beat this weekend.
Robertson still considers Reed the favourite. We asked Robertson how this race fits in to his year. “It’s hard to call it an A race, as I really only decided to start after racing in Wiesbaden. All my focus this year has been towards qualifying for Kona, so that’s still the focus.” Although it’s a last minute decision to race for Robertson he’ll be gunning for the win. “With the incentive of getting to Bahrain through this race, that’s the main goal. Plus I feel I’m coming into some good form and want to race!”
The change this year to training with Aeromax Team has been worked out incredibly well for Robertson. “I’ve really benefited from having a great group of guys around me to train with. We push each other, but have a lot of fun at the same time. Gilesy is a great thinker and keeps the whole squad on track and it shows with the success of the squad this year.”
Robertson finds out if he has a spot in Kona on Monday, but it’s looking good for him. “I’m so pumped for Kona!!!”
Casey Munro has been building back to the early form he showed as a junior in Victoria. Munro will be with the leaders out of the water and the former professional cyclist will then go on to build on the tough bike course. This should suit Munro and with his fast developing run this could be a race were we see him on the podium with all possibility that he could be standing on the highest part of the podium.
For Munro a long trip to Europe then Thailand plus a big block that he hopes to recover from before Sunday should see him do very well. “It was a last minute decision to do this race but I have had some good form with 1st, 1st, 3rd in the last 3 races, no injuries and a good block so I am really looking forward to letting rip on the weekend. I have been really happy with my bike lately so that gives me a lot of confidence going into this course.
We asked Casey how important this race is and loved his answer. “Every race I do I race like its the last race I will ever do, so yeah very important.”
Sam Betten has withdrawn from the race this weekend.
There will be a number of guys in the hunt after the swim including Michael Fox who has had a challenging year coupled with working full time. In spite of this he feels that he is in some reasonable shape. I bumped in to him in the National Park while out riding a few weeks ago and we had a quick catch up for a few kms. Fox is looking forward to this race to get himself going for the season.
The field is big and it is difficult to devote too much time to everyone. But we will keep trying…
One of the faster runners in the field is David Mainwaring. At the moment Mainwaring is just nudging sub 31min for 10kms and has had a few good road running races. He loves riding hills and after we drove around the course we phone Mainy and told him he should enter. If he was match fit this would be a race for him to shine. Mainwaring is building currently in his swim and is not bike fit yet. This race is a benchmark race for him and will give him plenty to take away and work on for the season.
There would not be too much doubt as to who will lead in to T1. Shane Barrie will be wanting to give one of his main sponsors, local Gold Coast company Huub Design, some of the limelight. For Barrie this will be his first Challenge race and either his second or third long course triathlon. He is young and in the very early stages of racing the longer distances. “The race is going to be on from the gun and as this is my new hometown I am really looking forward to racing here even though I am very inexperienced. I have put together some good training. This is a tough, honest and deceptive course. The fittest, strongest guy will win”.
The bigger guys like Joey Lampe may struggle (but we could be completely wrong) on the hilly course but Lampe is a strong rider. He will come out of the swim with the leaders and will have plenty of strong riders to pace off. At Port Macqurie last year Lampe finished close behind Appleton to take third overall on a tough bike course. Josh Amberger won that race but was in a different postcode after producing a swim/bike combo that blew the field apart. Lampe turned his ankle recently and will be hitting the GC to have a solid day and put some miles in the bank.
Time is running short but will will try to get back to the rest of the mens pro field. A little bit of pro-activeness would go a long way. Our email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Reed AUS
Justin Granger AUS
Michael Fox AUS
Ryan Cross AUS
Lindsey Wall AUS
Tim Green AUS
Nicholas Hull AUS
Bryce McMaster NZ
Brad Wauer AUS
Tom Rodgers AUS
David Mainwaring AUS
Richard Pearson AUS
Joey Lampe AUS
Sam Appleton AUS
Shane Barrie AUS
Adam Gordon AUS
Ryan Palazzi AUS
Brad Clark AUS
David Dellow AUS
Casey Munro AUS
Peter Robertson AUS
The favourite this weekend is Annabel Luxford. The former ITU world champion has taken to long course triathlon very well and has racked up some significant results. The 2013 Asia Pacific 70.3 Champ had a 2nd at the Abu Dhabi International triathlon, a 2nd at Challenge Half Philippines and the 2014 Asia Pacific 70.3 Champs and a win at Challenge Melbourne.
On paper we could see Lisa Marangon challenge Luxford if she brings her A game. Marangon has been training at Turbo Studio in Sydney on the Computrainers and has increased her bike strength with this new approach. Marangon is a strong swimmer and depending where she is at should be the main challenger to Luxford.
In saying this the tougher than usual bike course has Annabel Luxford written all over it. I have been humiliated by Annabel on more than one occasion up the Mt Camberwarra climb on the South Coast of NSW. Less so the last time after I shed a few kilos and actually trained a bit. Luxford is carrys no excess weight and has a power to weight ratio far higher than most competitors. The hilly course will suit her to a tee. Through in her ‘go hard until there is nothing left’ attitude and the rest of the women’s field will need to be racing at 110% to beat Luxford.
One of the legends of the sport, Belinda Granger will be pushing hard and using every bit of her 50+ iron distance race experience to work out how to get the most out of herself over this challenging course. Belinda is one of the biggest characters in the sport and an inspiration to all. We love seeing her racing and expect to see her chasing a podium spot.
This race is special for more than one reason. But something dear to our own heart is this race marks the return to professional racing of Christie Sym. It has been almost exactly two years since Christie crashed out of Ironman New York and out of triathlon. The last two years have thrown up more of life’s major hurdles than most should endure. This culminated her best friend and someone who I entered a business arrangement with being diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and liver in 2013. Within 8 months we were at Michael’s funeral and saying goodbye to one fit and ‘live life to the full’ 36 year old guy.
Forward on a few months and Christie will take to the Challenge Gold Coast course to get her feet back. This is not a race with expectations but a benchmark to let Christie know where she is at and what work needs to be done to get back to her best.
Annabel Luxford AUS
Madeline Oldfield AUS
Amelia Rose Watkinson NZ
Lisa Marangon AUS
Jodie Scott AUS
Rachel Paxton AUS
Belinda Granger AUS
Tineke Stewart NZ
Polly Mosley UK
Renee Baker AUS
Matilda Raynolds AUS
Christie Sym AUS