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5 June, 2021

Former winners to go head-to-head at Ironman

Previous champions are set to head-to-head at this Sunday’s Cairns IRONMAN, with five former winners in the men’s professional field.

Max Neumann winning IRONMAN Cairns in 2020 - Credit FinisherPix

Sunday’s race will see 23 male professionals take on the 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42km run, with the 2021 IRONMAN Cairns the 10th anniversary of the iconic event.

Defending champion Max Neumann won on his IRONMAN debut in 2020 and said he’s in a good position heading into the race.

“IRONMAN is never an easy thing to train for, so I’ve spent a lot of time and used a lot of patience, not going too hard too early so you can get to the race, with the main goal to get there injury free and with a good base of fitness,” he said. 

“I feel that we’ve done that over the last couple of weeks, I’m back to the shape I was in last year before Cairns and hopefully with the cooler conditions we can run a bit quicker and ride a bit quicker than in 2020 because it was absolutely brutal.”

“IRONMAN is something that everyone knows, even if you’re not involved in triathlon you know the word, to win an IRONMAN first go around is pretty special,” said Neumann. 

“Especially in what is pretty much my home race in Cairns, it was a good experience, a good feeling and set a good tone for the coming years.”

Josh Amberger won the IRONMAN Cairns title in 2017 and is looking forward to racing on Sunday.

“I love racing in Queensland, the course in Cairns is unique, I absolutely love the bike course, it has everything you want, spectacular location and views, but I really like the terrain as well, you can get in a really nice rhythm and ride and put the hammer down,” said Amberger. 

“I really loved racing here last year even though I didn’t feel good on the race course, or feel overly fit, the swim location is one of the best you can do in IRONMAN anywhere in the world and the run is well supported from the fans and the public and it’s a really enjoyable race and course to be a part of.

The 2021 event will feature more than 3,000 athletes, with many more spectators expected throughout the region, something that Amberger is keen to see.

“It’s going to be sick, I can’t wait, we saw at the IRONMAN 70.3 races we did earlier in the year that the crowds are getting back to the way it used to be and with a full-distance you need the support of the crowds and obviously the support from others on the course and the community feel and the inspiration you get from everyone else on the race course,” he said. 

“It’s going to be great to have that back and I think everyone will appreciate it on race day no matter if they are having a good one or not.”

New South Welshman Tim Van Berkel was second last year, and won the race in 2016, and is excited to be back in Tropical North Queensland.

“I love the warmer weather, I love that course, it’s so picturesque and so beautiful along the Captain Cook Highway there, it’s a race that I really enjoy and a race that really motivates me,” said Van Berkel. 

“These Championship races with the good prize purse attracts the good competition and that just really excites me and it’s a race I can get pumped for and training really hard for it.

Last year I only decided four weeks before that I could get into Queensland, because I was in NSW and at the time the borders were shut I had to go and spend two weeks in quarantine in South Australia just to get into Queensland,” he said. 

“I’ve done a good eight-week training block this year where last year I only really got two weeks of decent training. The preparation has been a lot better and I’m really pumped to get back up there and get back on the start line.”

New Zealander Cameron Brown is no stranger to the IRONMAN Cairns course, winning the race in 2014 and finishing second on two other occasions.

“As soon as the borders were open, seven or eight weeks ago, I thought we’ve got a race on now so let’s prepare for Cairns and do another IRONMAN,” said Brown. 

“It’s a fantastic group of Aussies that are turning up, it’s going to be very tough for a 48-year-old to match it with those boys but I’ll be doing my best and I’m just looking for good performances now and trying to make the most out of an ageing body, but a body that on its days is still capable of going alright.”

The field will also feature 2012 IRONMAN Cairns champion David Dellow, former IRONMAN Australia winner Tim Reed and 2019 IRONMAN Western Australia runner up Matt Burton.

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