Pete Jacobs, the 2012 IRONMAN World Champion, will kick-start his bid for a second world championship at IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat in Victoria, Australia on Sunday.



"I’m aiming to start my comeback to winning form in Ballarat, and more consistently than before," says Jacobs who has been unable to replicate that magical form on a consistent basis over the last two years.

"My focus for next year is to get back to Kona, but my first aim is to win and be consistent over IRONMAN 70.3 racing for six months, then I’ll approach the IRONMAN beast based on how things are going, but I’ll be aiming for winning form in Kona one way or another."

Event Ambassador Luke Bell, who lives in nearby Melbourne, is looking forward to taking on the huge men’s field in what will essentially feel like a hometown race.

"I always have a few scenarios up my sleeve depending on how I feel, the competitors and the conditions," says Bell.

"However at the end of the day it is still pretty simple, the fastest person from start to finish wins the race. You don’t have to have the fastest swim, fastest bike or fastest run, you just need to be first across the finish line."

Ballarat brothers Jamie and Ben Huggett will also be in the mix, with Jaime showing some recent good form with a sixth place at IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast in September. They’ll be joined by German Per Bittner, who finished third at IRONMAN Western Australia last weekend, and Aussies Clayton Fettell, seventh at Sunshine Coast, and Casey Munro who was fifth at Mandurah.

In the women Beth Gerdes will be hoping some of the hot form from partner Luke McKenzie will rub off on her at Ballarat, after McKenzie set the fastest IRONMAN time ever on Australian soil at Busselton last weekend.

“I loved watching Luke go for it from the gun and tear up the race course in Busselton. A solo effort off the front all day long is tough to pull off. Although I may not have a record-breaking performance like that, I was really inspired by his grit and determination and I'm definitely taking that with me into this weekend,” she said. “Luke is also looking forward to visiting Ballarat for the first time, though you will find him cheering on the sidelines or at the local pub this weekend rather than on the race course.”

She will be challenged by in-form Melbourne-based Annabel Luxford and Yvonne Van Vlerken (Netherlands), who finished an outstanding third at Western Australia last weekend.

Luxford goes into the race as favourite after her dominant display at IRONMAN 70.3 Western Sydney, where she was outstanding against a classy field.

"My race plan is simple, to race controlled yet be up the front from the start," says Luxford.

Australians Andrea Forest, second at IRONMAN 70.3 Port Macquarie, will also challenge for a spot on the podium as will IRONMAN 70.3 Gurye champion Sarah Crowley and Jessica Mitchell (fourth at Port Macquarie.)

Over 1,600 age group athletes will be chasing racing across IRONMAN 70.3 Ballarat weekend.

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Images: Delly Carr/IRONMAN