Never believe what’s on a triathlon start-list. That’s one of the occupational hazards of trying to write about, preview and forecast within the sport.
Sunday’s IRONMAN Copenhagen on Denmark just about sums that up. Cameron Wurf appeared, talked the talk and
walked the walk swam / biked / ran his way to a course record and a fourth professional IRONMAN victory.
Qualification no issue for Wurf
The final chance for male Pro athletes to qualify for the 2021 IRONMAN World Championship (which will now be held in February 2021, hopefully), Australia’s Cameron Wurf isn’t even listed on the published start list, and hence, he didn’t even gain a mention on my preview from last week.
Unlike almost everyone else in the field, qualifying for Kona was/is no issue at all for Cameron. He qualified for Kona 2020 (postponed to 2021, then postponed to 2022…) so long ago – winning IRONMAN Italy in 2019 – that is was actually before the last IROMAN World Championship was held in 2019, where he finished fifth.
Also riding for the INEOS Grenadiers, Wurf smashed the bike course record with a 4:02:19 split, which allowed him to arrive at T2 with a six and a half minute buffer over the expected swim leader, Lukasz Wojt, with Jesper Svensson (SWE) a further minute back.
The Aussie had exited the swim in the company of Lionel Sanders, five minutes down on the former Olympic swimmer, who now races for the Pewag triathlon squad.
Sanders and Wurf enjoy plenty of banter together off course and on social media, but Wurf was seemingly in no mood to ride with Lionel, flying solo and eventually catching Wojt around the 110km mark. He looked incredibly smooth and controlled in the process too.
While a 4:12 split by Sanders is far from shabby – he came off the bike in a group of around 10 riders – post-race he admitted he was feeling so bad, that he was almost set on pulling out of the race in T2.
Catch me if you can
It’s taken a while, but Wurf is now looking like a very good runner. Not the best in the sport, but someone who knows how to get the best of himself, and that’s by executing his pacing really well. An Olympic rower, Pro Tour cyclist and now multiple IRONMAN champion, he has proven his adaptability many times over.
By 21km, his lead was down to theee minutes over Svensson, with a revived Sanders now five minutes back in third. They may have been catching, but Wurf was still running at around 2:46/2:47 marathon pace in metronome style. The chasers would still need something special is Wurf maintained his stride.
Fast forward 10km and Svensson was going out of the back door, now nine minutes down, but Sanders had shaved seven minutes from his deficit and was now just two minutes behind. Could he close the gap?
He almost got to within a minute… but Wurf had reserves left, and as he used them in the final 5km, that coincided with the Sanders legs also started to fade, and he would not be caught. Indeed, he quickly added another two minutes to his advantage in the closing miles.
2:49:37 for Wurf, versus 2:43:50 for Sanders and a gap of just over three minutes at the finish. Just a few minutes later – and in his first IRONMAN – Henrik Goesch set a new Finnish record and took the final Kona slot in the process. He was racing on the WTS circuit until 2019.
IRONMAN Copenhagen Results
Sunday 22nd August 2021
PRO MEN (ONLY)
- Cameron Wurf (AUS) – 7:46:06
- Lionel Sanders (CAN) – 7:49:24 – Kona qualification
- Henrik Goesch (FIN) – 7:52:10 – Kona qualification
- Clemente Alonso-McKernan (ESP) – 7:55:09
- Mathias Lyngso Petersen (DEN) – 7:55:38
- David Plese (SLO) – 7:58:05
- Jesper Svensson (SWE) – 7:59:39
- Jaroslav Kovacic (SLO) – 8:04:34
- Yvan Jarrige (FRA) – 8:06:36
- Tomas Renc (CZE) – 8:07:01
DNF – Elliot Smales (GBR)