With most of the triathlon world on pandemic lockdown for the better part of the 2020 season, the Ironman Cairns event was a main focus for top pros in the Asia Pacific region. The event also served as the 2020 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship.
Just making it to the event proved challenging for Van Berkel, who lives in New South Wales. “Getting to Cairns was no easy task with Queensland borders shut to NSW,” he said. “I had to fly to South Australia for two weeks of self-isolation to get into Queensland.”
Conditions were sweltering on race day, with heat and humidity taking a toll on the field. Van Berkel put in a solid swim, coming out of the water in fifth position. From there, he powered his Trininty Advanced Pro bike with a CADEX WheelSystem on the bike leg, moving up to second place in the pro men's field.
“I had a solid swim and bike, putting me in good position, only 90 seconds back to the race leader on the run,” said Van Berkel, who wore the Giant Rivet TT helmet to the second-fastest bike split.
Max Neumann pushed the pace on the run, overtaking leader Josh Amberger to seize the lead. Van Berkel went to his limit, fighting the head to finish the day in second.
“I suffered big time in the marathon with heat and stomach problems but managed to stay strong and hold onto second place,” Van Berkel said. “And with that I was able to pick up my Ironman World Championship slot for 2021.”