Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns is shaping up as a battle between the old guard and the new kids on the block.
Australian triathlon royalty Chris McCormack will be joined on the starting line by last year’s runner up and 10-time IRONMAN New Zealand Champion Cameron Brown.
Between them the pair has notched up and impressive 23 Ironman titles, with McCormack sitting on a total of 12, more than any other man in history.
After spending much of last season chasing a London Olympic berth McCormack is looking forward to again testing his Ironman legs off the back of a huge training block.
“The preparation has been solid but you always feel like you could do a little more. My season was derailed a little earlier in the year after I broke my hand and required surgery after an event in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“It set things back a fair bit but overall I have moved passed that issue and have put a few solid weeks of work together. I came to Europe to race some very tough half distance events and they really force you to race above your fitness levels. It is a good way to fast track a training program if you are a little under done.
“I am looking forward to jumping back in and going long again. I really want to be even in my run and try to leave some depth for the season. This race will set me up for Kona. It will be good to try some things out here that we can build on moving forward.”
Current IRONMAN World Champion Pete Jacobs, who will be racing in the IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, believes that Brown and Macca richly deserve to go into the race as red hot favourites.
“The field has a few relatively new Ironman athletes with nothing to lose, who will push hard on the bike; of course Chris McCormack is the man to beat. He knows what needs to be done and if he wants the win, he will be hard to beat,” Jacobs said.
“I’d love to see Cam Brown get up. He’s had a rough run of illness and below par races since he couldn’t start in Kona last year. He has been an amazingly consistent Ironman athlete over the journey and one of the best in the world, so I hope he’s feeling good and can hurt the field on the run.”
However, if Brown and Macca spend too much time worrying about each other, there is any number of athletes in what is a very strong field, who could cause an upset.
You could almost put your house on the fact that Clayton Fettell will come off the bike with some sort of lead. The super fish and uber biker is looking for a big performance after a disappointing day at the URBAN Hotel Group IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championship, Melbourne.
“Melbourne was mentally very tough for me as the shorter swim meant my strength was taken away, I will be looking for a long hard swim at Cairns,” he said.
For his part Fettell will be keeping his eye on Brown and Macca, but also fellow Aussie Luke McKenzie.
McKenzie, a five time Ironman champion has been training in the US, and his recent Ironman 70.3 form has been solid.
He has recorded top ten finishes in all of his last three IRONMAN 70.3 races with an eighth at St George, ninth at Oceanside and seventh at Pucon.
“I have been living and training in San Diego for the past two months and the new training environment has been great and helped lift me to a really good place going into Cairns,” he said.
“I have been working on my bike leg a lot. Over the last 18 months I feel like I haven’t been riding at a level I’m capable of. I have made the bike a real focus during this block of training.”
McKenzie see’s the main obstacles to registering his sixth Ironman title as Macca and Brown, but also thinks Fettell is one to watch.
The Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns event is Sunday 9 June, 2013. Race starts from 07.25am.