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McKenzie eyes 3rd Cairns Ironman title

  • McKenzie eyes 3rd Cairns Ironman title

    Aussie triathlete Luke McKenzie will start favourite to win his third Cairns Ironman title on Sunday

With his Hawaii Ironman starting spot locked in, a relaxed Tim Berkel is poised to throw everything at red-hot Australian triathlete Luke McKenzie in Cairns.

McKenzie will line up at Cairns Ironman on Sunday a firm favourite having won the race twice in two attempts, adding last year's title to the one he bagged in 2013.

And only six months ago, the 34-year-old recorded the fastest Ironman time on Australian soil with a sizzling time of 7 hours 55 minutes and 57 seconds in Western Australia.

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However Berkel, who is regarded as McKenzie's biggest threat in a race that doubles as the Asia-Pacific championship, is undeterred.

Having booked his ticket to October's world championships in Hawaii with a runner-up finish in South Africa in April, the pressure is off Berkel and he's promised to roll the dice in a bid to take the top prize in north Queensland.

"In South Africa, I had to race a little smarter to make sure I got the points I needed," said Berkel.

"In Cairns, I'll take a risk and have a crack at the win."

New Zealand veteran Cameron Brown, Australian and 2012 champion David Dellow and American pair Matt Hanson and Jordan Rapp are set to be in the reckoning over the run leg.

In the women's race, three-time defending champion Liz Blatchford has pulled out with injury, meaning British compatriot Jodie Swallow will start as a solid favourite.

Swallow broke her elbow in a bike crash in April but is feeling ready to go in Cairns.

"I want to nail the marathon," said Swallow.

"I know I have a fast time in there and I want to pace correctly on the bike and on the first part of the run in order to pull that out in the last kilometres."

American Linsey Corbin, although she hasn't competed in an Ironman-distance race in 18 months, is one to challenge Swallow as are Australians Rebekah Keat, Sarah Crowley and Kate Bevilaqua and New Zealander Michelle Bremer.

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