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Ironman Melbourne Preview

melbIronman Melbourne gets underway this weekend for the fourth running of the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championships on Sunday, March 22. As a championship race there are more Kona Pro Ranking (KPR) points on the line drawing a deep field of pros gunning for Kona. For the first time, winners of the race this Sunday automatically qualify for Kona. This was among the changes at the pro level that Ironman announced last August.

In the men’s race, Nils Frommhold of Germany and Australia’s Tim Van Berkel are the top contenders, but Canada’s Jeff Symonds is certain to pose a threat. Frommhold and Van Berkel were sixth and seventh respectively at the 2014 Ironman World Championship.

In a press release Van Berkel said, “It’s been a long time since I have won an Ironman in Australia, and I’m very hungry for another title…I took a lot of confidence from Kona last year. I feel I can mix it with the best athletes in the sport on the world stage when things are going well.”

Symonds checked in with TMC from Melbourne where he has been training.

“I am super excited for the race this weekend. Training up in Bendigo has been awesome. It is a city up in the country with great riding and an even better triathlon community. There was a large group up there getting ready for the race and they were all blue collar, work hard types which created the perfect atmosphere for an Ironman build. I also got to see plenty of kangaroos up there as a bonus. It looks to be a solid field with some strong european cyclists and some very quick Australian runners. I am especially pumped about the point to point run. I like how epic it is and the fact that you don’t really see the other guys unless a pass is being made. It makes the mental fortitude to keep pushing hard no matter what that much more important. Like for everyone, there is a bit of nervousness heading into the Ironman, but more than anything I am feeling anxious. I just can’t wait to get out there and race!”

Also in the mix will be Luke Bell who is finally healthy after enduring a number of injuries during the 2014 season.

The women’s race will see a battle between three-time Ironman world champ Mirinda Carfrae and two-time race winner Caroline Steffen who beat out Carfrae in the race in 2012 when she won and Carfrae was third. In a press release Carfae said, “I’m looking forward to racing again at home,” she said. “Winning an Australian Ironman title is not something I’ve done yet, so I’d love to add one to my resume.”

Two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Melissa Hauschildt will no doubt challenge Steffen and Carfrae.

See the pro start lists below:

The Pro Men
1. Nils Frommhold (GER)
2. Tim Van Berkel (AUS)
3. Luke Bell (AUS)
4. Marko Albert (EST)
5. Peter Robertson (AUS)
6. Jan Raphael (GER)
7. Per Bittner (GER)
8. Jeffrey Symonds (CAN)
9. Jens Petersen-Bach (DEN)
10. Nick Baldwin (SYC)
11. Simon Billeau (FRA)
12. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS)
13. Christian Kramer (GER)
14. Lachlan Kerin (AUS)
15. Casey Munro (AUS)
16. Callum Millward (NZL)
17. Dan McGuigan (AUS)
18. Brendan Naef (CAN)
19. Josh Rix (AUS)
20. Todd Skipworth (AUS)
21. Jan Van Berkel (SUI)

The Pro Women
31. Caroline Steffen (SUI)
32. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS)
33. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED)
34. Mel Hauschildt (AUS)
35. Asa Lundstrom (SWE)
36. Bree Wee (USA)
37. Beth Gerdes (USA)
38. Mareen Hufe (GER)
39. Annabel Luxford (AUS)
40. Laura Bennett (USA)
41. Kym Coogan (AUS)
42. Ashley Clifford (USA)
43. Kristy Hallett (AUS)
44. Stephanie Jones (USA)
45. Marina Jurjevic (AUS)
46. Jessica Mitchell (AUS)
47. Emma Pooley (GBR)
48. Natasha Van Der Merwe (USA)