Max Neumann and Kylie Simpson have been crowned champions at the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, coming out on top at the 10th anniversary of the iconic Tropical North Queensland event.
Neumann made it back-to-back IRONMAN Cairns titles, with Simpson finishing on the top step of the podium in just her second IRONMAN race.
Brisbane based Neumann crossed the line in 7:58:54, almost eight minutes ahead of Tim Van Berkel with Josh Amberger third.
The now two-time IRONMAN Cairns champion was at the front of the field all day, coming out of the water hot on the heels of Amberger, with the pair powering ahead over the 180km bike course. Neumann pushed ahead on the run, extending his lead as he worked his way along the Cairns foreshore.
“It feels pretty special to come out here and execute a near perfect race for me, I just took no risks, just stayed calm and stayed patient and got the job done, it’s a special feeling,” said Neumann. “I think this win feels a little bit more special, I think it’s the atmosphere, just the way that the event has come together this year without many restrictions just makes it feel that little bit more special, I think most athletes will say the same.
“My whole family was here, my partner and friends, to have them all here makes it a lot more special,” he said. “Josh actually put the hammer down on the swim, after 800 metres he dropped me and then we stayed about 30 metres apart from each other for the next 2.9km. I knew Josh would take it quite hard on the bike but I just stayed in my power that we trained in and we ended up getting some good time on the chasing group.
“You could definitely see that we were both feeling quite good when we jumped off the bike, I felt good from the first few metres of the run and built into had one rough patch but most of it was pretty good,” said Neumann.
Brisbane athlete Kylie Simpson won her first IRONMAN title in just her second professional race, after debuting at the highest level at IRONMAN Cairns in 2020.
Simpson crossed the line in 9:06:34, more than three minutes ahead of reigning IRONMAN Cairns champion Amelia Watkinson, with South Australian Chloe Lane four minutes behind in third.
Simpson worked her way through the field over the day after coming out of the water in 10th position, 20 minutes down on the leader.
It was the run where she excelled, after coming off the bike 19 minutes behind Lane she powered through coming from sixth to take the lead with just over 12km left to go.
“I feel really good, I’m really happy with today, I knew that I would have a lot of work to do on the bike and then hope that I could run them down and it worked, that was the plan,” said Simpson. “This win is amazing, it’s the first win for me and the first time on the podium as a professional so it’s very special.
“I came out of the swim in 10th place so I knew that I had a lot of work to do and it was just head down on the bike, it was very windy out there so I just put in as much work on the bike as I could to catch up and I knew I’d have my work cut out for me to run them down,” she said. “I ran well here last year and the plan was to run faster this year.”
Simpson’s win qualified her for the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii later this year.
“That’s pretty amazing, that’s everyone’s goal as a professional athlete to qualify for Kona so it’s very special,” she said.
IRONMAN CAIRNS FINAL STANDINGS
Max Neumann, AUS, 7:58:54
Tim Van Berkel, AUS, 8:06:38
Josh Amberger, AUS, 8:10:11
Simon Hearn, AUS, 8:11:20
Mike Phillips, NZL, 8:17:02
Levi Maxwell, AUS, 8:19:11
Tim Reed, AUS, 8:26:08
Ben Phillips, NZL, 8:32:27
Fraser Walsh, AUS, 8:41:45
Simon Billeau, FRA, 8:44:47
Kylie Simpson, AUS, 9:06:34
Amelia Watkinson, NZL, 9:09:51
Chloe Lane, AUS, 9:13:59
Penny Slater, AUS, 9:18:18
Renee Kiley, AUS, 9:21:49
Vanessa Murray, AUS, 9:25:40
Rebecca Clarke, NZL, 9:38:57
Courtney Gilfillan, AUS, 9:52:59
Photo credit: Korupt Vision | IRONMAN Oceania