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By Timothy Carslson, Senior Writer – Inside Triathlon
When the returning top 10 triathletes at the Ironman Hawaii press conference were asked if there might be any surprise contenders emerging from the field on Saturday, returning second place finisher Cameron Brown of New Zealand took the microphone and mentioned 31-year-old Austin, Texas resident Chann McRae.
“Yeah, there’s a guy called Chann McRae, he’s a U.S. Postal rider, and he’s here,” said Brown. “He could be a new Steve Larsen. He was a fabulous triathlete as a junior, when I was racing as a junior as well. I heard when his contract’s up for U.S. Postal, he’s coming back to triathlon. Just see how he goes.”
When asked where McRae’s Ironman debut might fit in with the longtime rumor that Lance Armstrong had planned to be the first Tour de France rider to seriously contest the Ironman (Udo Bölts had a modest Ironman Hawaii finish in 2000), Brown answered: “Lance is actually quite annoyed Chan is doing it (racing Ironman Hawaii) before he does. Lance will be out here some day, I’m sure.”
McRae rode in the 2001 Vuelta a España as a temporary recruit for the Postal squad as his Mercury-Viatel team fell apart last year because of financial reasons. As a permanent member of the squad this year, he became U.S. national professional road racing champion this year by finishing second to Canadian Mark Walters at the U.S. Pro championship in Philadelphia in June. He was not, however, picked for the Postal Tour team, nor for the nine-man squad to take on this year’s Vuelta a España. The Texan found out before the Vuelta that his contract would not be renewed for ’03.
In September, McRae won the Olympic distance Dallas Ironhead triathlon in 2:06:07. His splits for the three disciplines were 23:37 (1500m swim), 1:01:32 (41.5 km bike) and 38:49 (10 km run).
On his website, McRae was quoted: “Coming back into the tri scene again was an awesome experience. I felt like a kid, doing the three things that I love to do most in sports; swim, bike, and run. I had an idea that I was going to win, and I knew I trained right and was prepared to give a strong performance.”
McRae has been training for Hawaii with 2000 Ironman Florida winner Jamie Cleveland in Austin.
“My training is on a very good line right now,” said McRae. “Jamie has been really helpful, and it is cool to train with an Ironman Champion, in my own backyard. I have set a very ambitious, but attainable goal for the Ironman. It is something that I believe in, and will give a performance at my very best to achieve. The Ironman is a race that I have a lot of respect for. You have to deal with many mental and physical elements; it is a very challenging task to make friends with the Gods in Kona,”
McRae was quoted in a story on his website www.channmcrae.com. McRae started his career as a triathlete, competing professionally at the age of 17, placing 5th in the 1988 National long course triathlon championship and 21st in the National short course championship.
He started cycling seriously in 1989, and was part of the US team that placed fifth in the team time trial at the Junior World’s. From then on, he focused almost exclusively on cycling, named to 11 world road championship teams.
McRae is racing as an age grouper in 30-34 and wears bib number 1083. To follow the action during tomorrow’s race, log on to our sister site atInsideTri.com.