Geelong Advertiser

Head start for local ironmen

Geall full of zeal


IN STEPHANE Vander Bruggen a team of triathlete­s trust.

The Geelong Performanc­e Coaching leader will guide 21 locals through the 113km Ironman 70.3 course on Sunday.

They will navigate Corio Bay and cycle 90km before covering 21.1km on foot to reach Steampacke­t Gardens.

Vander Bruggen will coach from the sidelines and said Geelong’s triathlete­s would have the home-ground advantage in a field of more than 1400 competitor­s.

“It is definitely an advantage because you get to know the swim conditions, the roads, the corners and whether there are any potholes,” he said.

“The run course is quite hilly so that could be the hardest part.”

As well as the Ironman 70.3, the city will host the Olympicdis­tance Geelong 5150 this weekend.

Sunday’s weather forecast will challenge competitor­s with a top of 33C predicted — a drop from last year’s sweltering 38C conditions.

“The challenge is that most years it is pretty hot and windy and then you have to run a half marathon off the bike in those conditions,” Vander Bruggen said. “But they are here to race, have trained hard and should be ready for hard conditions.”

Vander Bruggen believes Highton’s Nicole Robertson could medal in the 35-39 age group.

It will be her first Ironman 70.3 Geelong, after racing five other half ironman courses and placing third at the longdistan­ce triathlon world championsh­ip in China last year.

“I have full belief in what Stephane believes,” Robertson said. “I know I have some pretty good competitio­n because the race is like the Australian titles.

“Everyone aims for this race to be their goal race for the seasons so that’s just a bit of extra pressure. “I would like a medal. It would be a nice result to finish off a strong couple of months of training.”

The Ironman 70.3 Geelong starts at Eastern Beach from 7am on Sunday. MITCH Geall has a habit of betting on himself.

The 60-year-old former Geelong resident raced his first triathlon in 1982 to win a wager against a friend who said he couldn’t do it.

Thirty-three years later Geall, who now lives in Hong Kong, will tackle his first Ironman 70.3 on Sunday, despite difficult training conditions.

“The weather with temperatur­es in the high 20s low 30s for six months of the year and humidity higher than 90 per cent can be draining and the air quality is certainly not the same as Geelong. Cycling is OK once you get out of the city which means a 30-minute train ride, but you just don’t ride in the city itself.”

Geall, who returned to triathlons in 2004 after a 20year break, aims to complete the Ironman “with dignity” — in 5 hours and 45 minutes.

“In the end I’m going to enjoy the day competing in a sport that I love in my home town,” he said.

 ?? Picture: GLENN
FERGUSON ?? CONFIDENT: Stephane Vander Bruggen, centre, with triathlete­s Nicole Robertson and Jake Belsar.
Picture: GLENN FERGUSON CONFIDENT: Stephane Vander Bruggen, centre, with triathlete­s Nicole Robertson and Jake Belsar.

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