Outside of the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii Ironman Melbourne is arguably the hottest Iron distance field globally. In addition this is the first time in Australia that an Ironman triathlon is being held in a major metropolitan city and therefore will gain major TV, Print and Radio network exposure. We just hope that the coverage will be positive and will hold up the men and women racing as true sporting heroes therefore raising the profile of our sport like we used to have in the 1980s.
Due to injury one of the men that would have been short odds to take the title is out of the race. It would have been exciting to see Pete Jacobs racing in Melbourne and going head to head with Craig Alexander again. Whilst Ironman Melbourne is a hot field it can be argued that 4-10 of the worlds leading Ironmen would still be making sure that they are at 100% in October and Melbourne may be a little early in the year to gauge performance.
I have to say that there are just so many people to cover in the preview that it is impossible to do everyone justice so apologies if anyone feels slightly under represented. I am happy to update so please email us by clicking here with any extra information.
The Australian contingent will be racing hard to make sure that the first ever Ironman Melbourne title is not won by an overseas athlete. Heading the field has to be Craig Alexander closely followed by Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Aaron Farlow, Clayton Fettell, Courtney Ogden and Matty White. That is not to take anything away from Joe Gambles, Greg Bennett, David Dellow, Justin Granger, Paul Matthews, Josh Rix and Jason Shortis. Over a 70.3 you would be a fool not to take Greg Bennett seriously along with Paul Matthews and Joe Gambles. Gambles and Matthews could be the ones in this group to watch and David Dellow if he is on.
Craig Alexander did not have the best start to the year because of sponsor commitments and a fair bit of overseas travel in January. He has had a solid block since and as the consummate professional that he is will be in perfect shape for Sunday. Crowie is here to win and will be the one to beat on Sunday. It is not every day that many of the pros racing get to race the world champion and they will all want to perform well against him.
Luke Bell is a Melbourne local and knows the conditions better than anyone. Read Luke’s race preview by clicking here. As one of the world’s most prolific winners of half ironman and 70.3 races (19 firsts, and 14 seconds and thirds) he will be looking to perform well in front of the home crowd. With a 5th, 7th and 13th to his name at Kona Bell will be looking for that elusive Ironman win on Sunday. At the press conference today Bell acknowledged his ‘local’ status. “I live 2km down the road so I’m literally local! I can tell you how many steps from Frankston to St Kilda Sea Baths along the iconic Beach Road stretch with thousands of cyclists riding along the road each day,” said Luke Bell. “It’s a city that loves a big event and the field has definitely lived up to the expectations. On a scale of events, it’s on an International level with the Grand Prix here last week, and ASP Surf Pro at Bells Beach coming up,” continued Bell.
Luke McKenzie is flying under the radar a bit. He shouldn’t be. “Yes, it’s a good feeling to fly under the radar, but to have the quality of field here in Melbourne, it’s exciting because there is no other field outside of Hawaii assembled like this. To have this race in our home country, it really is exciting to be lining up in this size event. I’m looking forward to giving these guys a good run,” said Luke McKenzie. McKenzie’s coach Siri Lindley is confident with where McKenzie is.
Aaron Farlow has come on in leaps and bounds since teaming up with Brett Sutton and Team BBB. Last year Farlow won Ironman UK got two more podiums in Ironman Wales and Challenge Henley on Thames. Farlow won Challenge Wanaka in January this year and will be well placed if everything goes to plan on Sunday.
Another to fly under the radar is Courtney Ogden. Ogden was unlucky at Ironman Australia last year when a couple of punctures put him out of the running. Otherwise he had a good race with a great run. In January this year Ogden was 4th at Challenge Wanaka with his bike holding him back. In October last year Courtney finished 16th at Kona with a solid run of 2:55.
Gambles in particular seemed very relaxed and confident when chatting to Trizone today. “After suffering through my Achilles issues and using some lifts in my shoes while getting them right I found that I was having some hamstring issues which I couldn’t get rid of. I was reluctant to get rid of the lifts because they had fixed my Achilles but in reality they were now causing me other issues. I threw them away four weeks ago and have been running freely since.” Gambles raced the Australian Long Course at Falls Creek in early February and knew exactly what he need to address before Melbourne.
Clayton Fettell will most likely be the one that all the other pros will be nervously watching. There is no doubt where he will be after the swim and will follow with his equally strong bike. Will this mean that the leading pro males will make decisions and alter their race day plan depending on what Fettell throws at them or continue with their own race plans. At Abu Dhabi recently Fettell through caution to the wind and had a crack at winning from the front. This didn’t work out but he was not far off at the end.
Matty White will pressing for a big result this weekend. White has managed to get rid of all injuries and recently won the Victor Harbour triathlon after a 140km run week. “My injury woes are now gone and the signs are good heading in to Melbourne. After Melbourne I will be waiting for our first child to be born which is due late April so if all goes to plan I will be in Busso 70.3 and Cairns Ironman.”
Another Australian triathlon legend is Jason Shortis. The evergreen ironman great has completed well over 50 Iron distance triathlons and was 3rd at Ironman WA in December. In this race he ran himself in to 3rd after being slightly off the pace in the swim and bike. Shortis posted a 2:49:58 marathon. Being slightly off the pace in the swim and bike in this race will not be ideal. This is a Kona strong field and the swim / bike will set the race up.
The overseas athletes are here in big numbers and will want to take the title from the Australians. Eneko Llanos had a good result recently in Abu Dhabi and has been in Wollongong for the last three weeks completing his preparations for Melbourne. As one of the world’s leading Ironmen he will not be traveling this far without expecting a win.
Frederik Van Lierde will be one of the short odd favourites. He showed that he is in great form recently at the Abu Dhabi triathlon with a 5th place just 3:28 behind winner Rasmus Henning.
Kiwi and 10 time winner of Ironman New Zealand Cameron Brown is feeling good going in to the race. Speaking to Trizone yesterday Brown feels he is in Good shape for Sunday “With NZ Ironman 70.3 three weeks ago I’m now fully recovered. If it was a Ironman it would be a different story! Hopefully that will put me in good shape for a hard race on Sunday as NZ 70.3 was fast! The field has a number of top guys mainly Craig Alexander. He will be the man to beat plus Eneko Llanos. With 10-15 strong Aussies there as well it will not be an easy day at all but I’m looking forward to it. Should be a fast day looking at the race course especially the bike.”
After a couple of 70.3 wins last year and a very good training block with coach Darren Smith in Canberra former World Duathlon champion Bart Aernouts is competing in his first Iron distance race. Aernouts is confident of a good performance. At the recent Wollongong triseries race Aernouts spoke to Trizone about Melbourne. “I feel I have done the work needed and am confident that I will be in the mix later in the race. There is the unknown element but I have raced many long distance races and I have am sure I will be fine.” One of Aernouts training mates, Lisa Norden was very bullish about his chances in Melbourne. “Bart will be one of the dark horses”.
Mitch Anderson had a mixed race at the recent Falls Creek Australian Long Course Championship. His bike and run were exceptional. He had a minor issue in the swim but regained himself and exited the water just a bit down on the field. The surprise of the day was his speed over the 20km run. It will be interesting to watch Mitch on Sunday. He could be right up there.
|Van Lierde, Frederik