The URBAN 2.80.20 launched onto the triathlon scene last July and has cemented its’ status with a who’s who in Australian men’s long distance racing lining up for the inaugural event this Sunday, February 12th in Geelong, Victoria. Whilst the women’s race does not have the depth the organisers would have hoped it still boasts the current Carins Half champion, Rebecca Hoschke (nee Eveleigh) and Belinda Granger who will make it a competitive race.
(9/02/2012) Since posting this preview current Challenge Barcelona female champion and Australian Michelle Mitchell has entered the Geelong long course triathlon. This will certainly make the women’s race a lot more interesting. The money would have to be on Michelle now although it will depend on where the main women are at with their training and racing schedule. The inclusion of Michelle make the headline yesterday’s news as there are now 6 current long course title holders starting this weekend. Mitchell also finished second at Challenge Cairns in 2011 only four minutes behind Rebekah Keat.
Part of the second annual Geelong Multi Sport Festival, the 2km swim, 80km cycle and 20km run offers $12,000 prize money, making it Australia’s second richest long course triathlon event.
The classic distance race has a long history in Geelong and has struck a positive chord with competitors and sponsors thrilled to see the event return to the traditional home of long course racing in Victoria.
USM EVENTS CEO Geoff Meyer said the caliber of athletes that have signed on for the URBAN 2.80.20 really underpins our decision to include the long distance race onto the program.
“These guys are the best in the business and selective of the events they chose to race, so we are thrilled to have that sort of acknowledgement and support from them. It will definitely make for one very competitive and exciting race,” said Mr Meyer.
Tim Berkel, Australia’s youngest three-time iron distance champion is focusing on the half distances this year and cannot wait to hit the start line. Berkel won Ironman WA in 2009, Challenge Copenhagen in 2010 and 2011 and Busselton 70.3 in 2011. Berkel raced last weekend in Goondiwindi and took out second in the Hell of the West triathlon. This was not a goal race for Tim and more a weekend away with a couple of mates. He was firmly focused on Geelong.
Berkel has spent a lot of his recent training time focusing on his swim. He has a long term plan to race Kona in 2013 but knows he needs to get his swim sorted. “Under Grant Giles I have taken my swim back to the basics and worked on technique and consistant miles in the pool”. With this focus Tim has not put his usual effort in to the bike and run. In saying this his run is still quick right now. I spoke with him in Tauranga in January where he finished 6mins off the pace against Cameron Brown. This was a hit out to see where he was at and get a race under his belt after a long period of no racing.
“I am looking forward to racing the Geelong course as I have recently partnered with URBAN Hotel Group and can’t wait to represent and support them.
“This year is going to be a big one for me, getting married as well as a few other things on my plate. I haven’t completely written-off ironman, but right now I need to focus on the half distance events,” said Berkel.
Joining Berkel on the start line for a tilt at creating history in claiming the inaugural title, is current Australian Ironman Champion and world number two ranked Hawaii Ironman Pete Jacobs, 2011 Shepparton Half Ironman winner Leon Griffin, 2011 70.3 Ironman Port Macquarie winner Clayton Fettell, and 40-time iron distance finisher Justin Granger. In addition Matty White will be tough competition for these guys. With a second in the Yeppoon 70.3 last year and the Busselton 70.3 Matty White has the speed to be at the pointy end at the right time.
Giving the cream of the crop a run for their money is dark horse, Fettell. After winning the Port Macquarie 70.3 in November last year and backing up for a close second at his debut Ironman at Busselton he will have fine tuned any perceived weaknesses.
“I won’t be tapering for the event as I’m coming down from altitude. But as always, I race to win and am looking forward to taking the race up the road.
“I’ve had a very heavy bike focus leading into the URBAN 2.80.20 which forms a key part to my preparations for the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon,” said Fettell.
The fast paced, multi looped course along Geelong’s spectacular waterfront and scenic countryside is a major attraction amongst competitors, who have also declared it to be the perfect hit-out before the inaugural Ironman Melbourne in 6 weeks time (March 25).
Jacobs looks to be a red-hot favourite after a blistering 2nd place at the World Ironman Championships in Kona last year. Jacobs will use the URBAN 2.80.20 as vital preparation for the year head.
“It is a good time for me to be racing. I will be about 90 per cent when I get to the start line and it will be the ideal lead in race for Ironman Melbourne.
“It is nice to have some choice of long distance races in Australia, more prize money, more points, tougher fields, more competition, and more media coverage as well,” said Jacobs.
It is interesting to see some good natured banter on Twitter from Jacobs in the lead up to Geelong. Mainly aimed at Fettell it is obvious from this and chatting to Pete that he is going to take the challenge of staying ahead of Fettell on the swim and bike very seriously. This is about more than the result.
Other male athletes racing not just to make up numbers are Denmark’s Jimmy Johnson who has made the move to Australia and teamed up with Grant Giles at Aeromax Team which also counts Clayton Fettell and Tim Berkel amongst its athletes. Johnsen won Challenge Barcelona in 2010 and was second to Tim Berkel at Challenge Copenhagen in 2011. Johnsen was fifth in New Zealand at the recent Challenge Wanaka with a solid swim/run but a slow bike (possible tech problem but unsure).
Luke Whitemore is also racing to make a name for himself. He finished 3rd at Shepparton late last year. Whitemore was competitive on the swim and run but slightly off the pace on the bike. A 6th at Ironman Australia in May 2011 was also a solid result after a less than ideal race including cutting himself on Oysters.
In the women’s field, one of Australia’s most decorated triathletes Belinda Granger will go into the race as favourite, after the late withdrawal of long-time rival Carrie Lester.
Lester, a former Australian Ironman Champion, is disappointed in having to withdraw after fracturing her hand over Christmas.
“Unfortunately I have to withdraw from the race as my hand still healing. I have been training well and no doubt my bike-run would be very strong for the race, but the hand is not ready for a hard swim yet,” said Lester.
It will be Granger’s first race of 2012.
“The URBAN 2.80.20 is one of my all-time favourite distances and the perfect way to kick-start my season.
“I can’t wait to get back down to Geelong to race as it has been a few years since I raced down there and I always enjoy my time in Victoria.” said Granger.
Up against Belinda will be Cairns Half champion Rebecca Hoschke (nee Eveleigh) who looked in awesome shape leading in to the Tauranga Half last month but had to pull out due to a bout of gastro in the three days before the race. After pulling out of the Hell of the West last weekend Rebecca has a lot of energy to get out of her system in Geelong this weekend.
Jacinta Worland will also be there to more than just make up the numbers. Worland raced in the Canberra 70.3 recently with a competitive swim / run. Her bike was too slow but it wasn’t a great race with some serious rain and many had issues on the bike with flat tyres and technical problems.
PRO START LIST
- Matthew Bailey
- Timothy Beardall
- Tim Berkel
- Clayton Fettell
- Justin Granger
- Leon Griffin
- Pete Jacobs
- Jimmy Johnsen
- Matty White
- Luke Whitmore
- Belinda Granger
- Rebecca Hoschke (nee Eveleigh)
- Renee Lane
- Jacinta Worland
Event Name: URBAN 2.80.20
Dates: Sunday, 12 February 2012
Where: Eastern Beach, Geelong
Race Start: 7.05am
Course: Long Course Triathlon:
SWIM 2km – 1 lap course with a seeded mass start.
CYCLE 80km – 2 lap fast & wide course.
RUN 20km – 2 laps including Geelong’s foreshore and Botanic Gardens.