Two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack is back in the Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region of Queensland, Australia to defend his title at the Cairns Airport Ironman Cairns event. The outspoken Australian is ready to validate his slot to Hawaii and take on the world’s best long distance racers regardless of whether he realises his dream of making the Australian Olympic team. We caught up with Macca to find out more about his plans for the season ahead and what he thinks about Lance Armstrong’s return to the sport.
Nb. This interview was conducted before Macca announced that he had not been selected for the London 2012 Olympics (story here)
How is it trying to focus on both the Olympics and prepare for Ironman?
It’s not how I planned to do it. I find out today about the Olympics, so if you see me celebrating you know I have got a place on the squad. This last year has been a real eye opener. I have so much respect for those guys. The boys from Australia have all worked so hard. It’s just some of the guys, like the Brownless, are just at a different level.
How do you feel about the Ironman here in Cairns?
I am so happy to be back. I think this is one of the best races in the world and the bike course is the most beautiful out there. I am here to validate my slot for Kona.
Are you race fit for this event?
I didn’t plan on being in this position. I was hoping to have had more time to do long stuff. The 180K ride I did here in Cairns last year was my last long ride. I won’t lie I am apprehensive. I had planned on having and eight-week block coming into this race if I hadn’t made the Australian team for the Olympics. We were originally told we would know the names of the Olympic team after Sydney in April but the goal posts were moved and we still haven’t found out who’s going. As for the race here in Cairns I want to play a smart game and just get through the race. I want to be solid and build into a big season. I am here just to ratify for Hawaii, so I’m going to get to that finish line regardless. I am fit, I’m just not Ironman fit.
Can you win Kona again?
I think at 39 I still have a lot to offer there. Since giving the Olympics a shot I am faster in the swim, I’m running quicker and I’m leaner so I think I can still do well there. Many of the other contenders are struggling and racing Ironman is my day job, so I am looking forward to going back. I saw Crowie dig deeper than he has ever before last year and he did the same in Melbourne. I think his run in Hawaii last year was one of the best performances I have seen. He worked so hard for that.
What are your thoughts about Lance Armstrong coming back to the sport?
There’s so much talk and hype around Lance, and everyone’s pussy footing around the bloke. I think it is great that Lance is coming back to triathlon and racing Ironman. It’s great for our sport. I know he wants to be a contender but I am ready to race him and beat him.
Can Lance be a contender?
There’s a lot of hype. I want to smash him. Look at his times. He’s probably a minute down on the swim on the fastest guys. I know he will ride to the front, he should – he’s best the cyclist in the world and has seven Tour de France wins to prove it, but this is triathlon and he has to run. I look at my strengths and his, and he won’t be able to run with me. Look at the performances in all his races. His run has fallen apart in the latter stages of the run in every race. I run for dough and he doesn’t run as well. I look forward to it. You can’t do that if you want to win Kona. Lance I am better than you. Bring it on. I can’t wait to race him.
What are your plans for the season ahead?
If I don’t make the Olympic squad then I will go and race the lTU Long Distance World champs. I will also go and race some 70.3 events because I want to go to Vegas and then Kona. It’s back to my day job of racing long.