Giant-sponsored triathlete Tim Van Berkel wrapped up his 2017 season with a strong podium finish at the Ironman Western Australia in Busselton, a race that played out in an unusual fashion after the swim was cancelled due to a shark sighting.
“I had my wetsuit on, ready to head towards the swim, but they weren’t letting anyone in the water,” Van Berkel explained. “The helicopter had spotted a shark 600 meters from the jetty. I was pretty disappointed as I have been working hard on my swim for the past five weeks and I was keen to see where I was at.”
With the swim deemed too dangerous, organizers modified the race to a 180km bike and a 42.2km run. Van Berkel adjusted his own plan and took to the start, which also followed an unusual format. “After postponing the race for an hour, they started us on the bike from the beach 20 seconds apart. They started with bib number 30, down to bib number 1.”
Van Berkel was wearing bib number 4, so he had a lot of time to make up on the 180km bike ride. “I started near the back of the pack,” he said. “The plan was to ride hard and catch some of the stronger cyclists. The pace for the first 90k was probably too hard. I went through the first 90k in 2:01 with an average power of 305. The last 20k was pretty touch as the day started to heat up.”
Riding his aerodynamic Trinity Advanced Pro and wearing the Giant Rivet TT helmet, the Aussie passed dozens of riders, clocking a fast time. He entered the run in fourth position with a personal best time of 4:13. On the run, he moved into the lead at the 6km mark.
“After that I started to melt and the wheels started to fall off,” Van Berkel said. “Dougal Allan caught up with me and then Terenzo Bozzone caught us both at the halfway mark of the marathon. I went into survival mode and hold on for third place.”
Van Berkel was disappointed he didn’t win, but it was still a strong finish in his last big race of the year.
“It’s been a bit of a rough year,” he said. “Training went well all year, I was holding good numbers but couldn’t convert that to good races. But I’ve made a few changes to my bike fit on the Trinity, which felt great at Ironman Western Australia. I’m hoping that will help with my bike ride at the World Championships in Hawaii next year. Now I’ll take a much-needed break, and will start back in the new year.”