AMBITIOUS GOALS, A NEW STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AND A BABY
On the eve of their first Ironman of the year, the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team looks forward to a promising 2013. New team manager Bob Wolf has set ambitious goals: more Ironman victories and an even better performance in Hawaii than the team’s strong 2012 results. Chairman Bart Verhaeghe announced a new partnership with BMC Switzerland. From this year, BMC will serve as a co-sponsor of the team and the Uplace athletes will train and compete with BMC bikes. In 2014, Uplace and BMC are looking to set up an international triathlon team project. Tine Deckers also has big plans: she is expecting her first baby and plans her return to professional Ironman racing later this year.
Tine Deckers, Sofie Goos, Bart Aernouts, Bert Jammaer, Axel Zeebroek and Bruno Clerbout recorded an outstanding 2012 with four victories and nine top three finishes in international Ironman races. The Uplace Pro Triathlon Team also had five athletes competing in the Ironman Hawaii, making it the largest pro team in Kona.
New team manager Bob Wolf, who started on January 2, faces a major task: “To quote our team chairman, ‘The best is yet to come.’ It is my job to translate these ambitions into Ironman victories and stronger performances in Hawaii for all Uplace athletes. With the right attitude, an even more professional approach and sensible planning, this should be absolutely realistic.”
BMC - BMC will serve as a co-sponsor of the team. Uplace Chairman Bart Verhaeghe, “The team results of the last two years show the strength of the team approach in triathlon. We are delighted that a big name like BMC wants to play a role in making the project even more powerful, professional and international. Together we can create a project not yet seen in triathlon.”
Tine Deckers - 2013 is all about having a baby. If everything goes according to plan, she will give birth to her first child mid-July. Tine’s announcement does not mean the end of her professional career, “This was a planned baby, but that doesn’t diminish my athletic ambitions. I feel that I am still improving and I have recorded some good results the last few years. That is why I really want to come back. I want to be part of the international top for a few more years. If my body and my family situation allow, I would like to return to competing at the international level from November.”
On Sunday, Tine will participate in the Ironman 70.3 South Africa. It will be her last race until after the baby arrives, “My doctor gave the green light yesterday to participate in South Africa, but I will of course not take any unnecessary risks. After that, I will keep training under medical supervision for as long as possible. It’s been interesting though. As an athlete, I have to get used to relinquishing complete control over my body.”
Sofie Goos - 2012 brought a second Ironman victory for Sofie Goos. In 2013, she is going for additional victories and a convincing performance in Kona, “My main goals for the pre-World Championship season are the Mexico and Frankfurt Ironman races. In Mexico, I want to go for gold. In Frankfurt, which will have a stronger field, I am shooting for a top three finish. Getting to Hawaii should not be a problem, but this year I want to make my mark. That is why we are focusing on my bike conditioning. I am a strong runner, but that doesn’t really show in Ironman races because the bike leg wears me out too much. With a better bike performance, I hope to make a difference in Kona.”
Bart Aernouts - made an international name for himself in 2012 with his third consecutive victory in the Ironman 70.3 Antwerp, a second place in the European Championship Ironman 70.3 and a sixth place in the World Championships 70.3 in Las Vegas. In his very first Ironman Hawaii, he ran the fastest marathon for an impressive eleventh place finish, “2012 was a very consistent season with some promising results. The most important races of the season, Las Vegas and Hawaii, were good, although I would have liked to have finished in the top five and top ten. My main goals for 2013 are the Ironman Nice and the World Championships 70.3, where I am aiming for a top three spot. Hawaii, of course, is also important. I am shooting for top ten. After this first go at Kona, I can now gauge the race better and use this insight to improve my preparation.”
Bert Jammaer – after hip and Achilles tendon injuries made for a false start, Bert Jammaer found his form at the end of 2012 with a third place in the Ironman Cozumel. In 2013, his main focus is on the Ironman South Africa and Ironman Hawaii, “The last six months of 2012 were good for me, so I am starting the new year with confidence. Especially Mexico taught me that I can win another Ironman. This year, I am looking for strong performances in South Africa and in Kona. And of course, the Ironman Lanzarote is a sentimental favorite because I have won the race twice. However, that will probably be an all or nothing story because there will be little recovery time after South Africa.”
Axel Zeebroek - 2012 was a good year, Axel came in third in the Ironman St. George and in the Ironman 70.3 San Juan, and captured an outstanding fifteenth place in the Ironman Hawaii. “2012 made me mentally stronger. Taking third place in my hardest Ironman ever in Utah and the success of a more aggressive Ironman Hawaii have sharpened my mental and physical strength. The goal for this year is to go for good results early so I can secure a Kona slot quickly. That is why I am starting my season this weekend. So I can prepare for Kona in the best conditions, especially now that the back problems which have bothered me in the past are under control. This year, a podium finish is my goal in every race. I want to win Ironmans!”
Bruno Clerbout - the highlight of 2012 was undoubtedly his sixteenth place finish in the Ironman Hawaii. But he also recorded strong performances in the Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil-Jona (third place), Ironman Nice (fourth place) and the half Ironman Ireland (fourth place). “2012 made me forget a poor 2011. Pieter Timmermans put me back on track in a short amount of time; now the goal is to get to full speed. Hawaii is the end station. Which route I will follow to get there is not yet entirely clear. As long as it is beautiful and challenging.”
Season Start - On Sunday, January 20, Tine Deckers, Bart Aernouts and Axel Zeebroek will kick off their season with the Ironman 70.3 South Africa. The Ironman Los Cabos on March 17 will be the first race for Sofie Goos and Bruno Clerbout. That same day, Bert Jammaer will compete in the Ironman 70.3 San Juan.
Professional support - The Uplace Pro Triathlon Team is continually pushing the envelope in terms of professionalization. Trainers Pieter Timmermans and Bart Decru remain on board to support team manager Bob Wolf in all athletic matters. Maarten Thysen is responsible for strength and stabilisation training and injury prevention. Vincent Vanbelle is the team doctor.
BMC is of course the main newcomer among the sponsors. Bioracer will once again develop and produce the Uplace Pro Triathlon Team race outfits. In addition, new sponsor Under Armour will supply training and leisurewear. Further support is provided by Adidas Eyewear (sunglasses), Shimano (bike parts and materials), Easton (wheels and handlebars), Pearl Izumi (running shoes), Tacx (bike training), Athlete Fitting (bike positioning), SportsControl (nutritional supplements), Compex (electrostimulation), Sportoase (sports facilities), BMW (cars) and Assumax (insurance broker).