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The Australian super biker—who finished fifth at Kona last year and holds the bike course record—last raced on the WorldTour in 2014 before transitioning to tri in 2016. Since then, he has enjoyed an impressive rise through the Ironman ranks, diligently working on his swim and run in order to become a world-class contender at any race he starts. He won Ironman Australia and Ironman Italy last year with marathon splits of 2:50 and 2:45 respectively. His victory in Italy means he has already qualified for Kona this year, which obviously gives him the freedom to pursue an opportunity like this one.
He will make his debut for Team INEOS at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Victoria, Australia, on Sunday, and will be ready to race for the team through the first part of the season before turning his attention to Hawaii leading up to October.
Wurf told Triathlete: “I will race for the team as needed and then the plan is for me to focus on the Collins Cup and Challenge Roth in the lead up to Kona. Obviously it’s early days, so I’m sure things will change and evolve as the year rolls on.
“We’ve tried a number of different approaches to my training and racing over the past few years and I’ve been getting better and faster as a result. This is an evolution of that approach. Since I’ve been competing in Ironman, everyone has started riding a lot faster, but they’re also still running just as fast. This move will allow me to stay on the front foot because the bike is my strongest discipline.
“I’m focused on Kona in October but there’s also an opportunity to be of use to the team when needed before that. I know lots of people in the team and have trained with many of the riders, and I feel like I fit in with the culture here.
“This is an organization I’ve dreamt of being part of since it started and it’s amazing to officially pull on the colors.”
Wurf already had close links to the team and has been supported by many of its main sponsors for the past three years including Pinarello, Kask, Castelli, and Fizik. He has been coached by Tim Kerrison, the team’s head coach, since 2017.
Kerrison said: “Wurf will be joining the team to continue to pursue his Ironman career. The combination of his physical strength and versatility on the bike, his flexible schedule, and past experience racing at WorldTour level makes this an interesting and unique proposition for the team and for him.
“For the first part of the season he will be always ready and available to race as required, while for the months leading into Kona his focus will shift back to Ironman, with the aim of improving on last year’s fifth place with the full support of the team.”
Wurf, 36, started his sporting career as a rower and competed for Australia at the 2004 Olympics. He transitioned to professional cycling and rode at WorldTour level for Fuji Servetto (2009), Liquigas (2011) and Cannondale (2013-14), before taking up Ironman in 2016.