Cameron Wurf was helping the INEOS Grenadiers win Paris-Roubaix less than three weeks ago, and on Saturday he bids for an incredible double at the IRONMAN World Championship in St George.
The pro cyclist and pro triathlete is one of the world’s most remarkable all-round athletes – he was also once an Olympic rower.
What the 38-year-old Aussie will attempt this weekend though might just trump anything he has achieved before.
Paris-Roubaix is not known as ‘The Hell of the North’ for nothing – it is a brutal test of cycling’s elite, taking the riders along cobbled roads and rutted tracks in northern France.
Wurf was part of the team which helped Dutchman Dylan van Baarle claim victory in the race’s fastest ever edition. But just a few days later, Cam was already considering St George.
By last weekend he had made the decision to race and on Wednesday he was on a plane to Utah. Twenty-four hours later the 12-1 shot (odds per UK sportsbook Sky Bet) took a starring role in the official press conference in St George.
Swim key for Cam
While naturally it is Wurf’s prowess on the bike which garners most headlines, he is quick to point out that he’s no one-trick pony.
“To be honest people always want to talk about the bike and how you’re going to approach that, but I never make any plans for the race until I get out of the water.
“In Kona the first year I had Lucy Charles under my armpit – I had to get through the women’s field before I even started chasing the men’s field down.
“Then of course In Italy that year, I was able to swim at the front with great swimmers like Tim Don etc and then obviously ride away. Then I actually broke the run course record on that day.
“For me it’s about getting through the swim. I’ve got no idea where I’ll be – I’ve had some really good swims, I’ve had some terrible swims. Get through that and go from there.”
Paris-Roubaix an epic day
Wurf said being a part of that Paris-Roubaix success, and the brutal 265km which went with it, made for “a really special day”. One he now looks back on with a mixture of awe and affection.
“In a race like that it’s pretty special to have a front group of 50 riders and your whole team’s there.
“Obviously we got closer to the cobbles, and they came over the radio and said ‘Cam, you need to take it easy a bit because you’re going to have to lead the guys onto the cobbles for the first few sectors. God, it gave me goosebumps to be honest.
“Hit the cobbles and honestly it felt like being in Kona the first year, with Sebi and Lionel up there on the bike, finally skipping away from them and being on my own.
“I love stealing Sebi’s quotes, but I love being in the sun, up the front, on the camera. You know that all of a sudden, everyone’s watching you and here you are, on the front of the peloton, hitting the famous cobblestones of Roubaix.”
While recovering from that epic finish took a little time, even then Wurf wasn’t sure until a few days ago that he would be able to head for St George.
Going for gold in St George
“I’m on call for pretty much every race, and the Giro [d’Italia] is about to start and I could have been called up for that. There were no guarantees I could even be here until a few days ago,” he explained.
“But honestly, being at Roubaix, and actually being a part of it the way we were, and seeing how big a day it was, it reminds you of how fortunate you are to be able to compete at the highest level.
My wife said to me a couple of weeks ago: ‘You wanted to be the big guy that said you could do both sports. So you get yourself on that plane, and take us with you, and go and take on these guys and prove you can do it’.”
Now Wurf stands on the brink of what might be his greatest achievement of all, and he absolutely understands the sheer size of this moment.
“When I started this, I always thought about the prospect of being able to do both sports at the highest level.
“But the reality of being able to sit here amongst these guys, and genuinely feel like I’ve got a chance of being competitive on Saturday after the experience I had just a couple of weeks ago on the road bike, I never even imagined it would be like this.
“I’m just really grateful to be here and can’t wait to get stuck into them.”