By Karl Hayes
It is always hard to put some predictions out there for a race like this. With knowing so many of the Aussies and Kiwis we want to support everyone and also hope they all exceed their expectations. In saying that after looking though the results this year and knowing how everyone is going we have to make some predictions. It would be great if all the top finishers were Aussies and Kiwis. (In saying that ‘All Blacks for 2011 Rugby World Cup Champs’. Some things are just in your blood!)
I am starting out with the women because of one person. Melissa Rollison is without doubt the rookie of the year on the 70.3 circuit.
With most of the worlds leading 70.3 professional triathletes racing at Las Vegas this weekend it will be a fantastic race. The women’s race should be slightly easier to pick with Australia’s Melissa Rollison definitely the athlete that most of the money will be on. The unknowns are the obvious things like mechanical failure but also how Mel will go in the heat of Las Vegas and the hills. As a former Commonwealth Games 3000m steeplechase silver medalist and national record holder at the distance, Melissa is the runner that everyone will need to beat. She has said she is working on getting her arms and legs to settle down a bit so that she can run faster for longer (Mel is already posting 1:16 run times in 70.3) and if anyone can run and ride the hills she definitely has the strength to do so. Melissa’s main focus will be not losing too much time on the swim. Coming from behind in the swim, Rollison has dominated the two 70.3 triathlons she has raced in the US recently. In Muncie Rollison came out of the water almost three minutes down on the leaders and finished almost four minutes ahead to take the race. In Vineman it was much of the same. After coming out of the water two minutes down on the leaders her bike/run combo was just too strong for the field and she finished over six minutes ahead of second placed Leanda Cave. With the non wetsuit swim Melissa will have to really push to limit her losses.
Michelle Wu should also be right up there with the female leaders. Wu won Yeppoon 70.3 a few weeks ago. She finished ahead of Lisa Marangon after trailing in the swim and bike. Wu’s run is one of the quickest around. If she can hang on in the swim, ride solidly then her run should bring her home.
Christie Sym has had some good races this season with a win at Racine 70.3 and a second at Alcatraz recently. Madeleine Oldfield, who Christie pushed in to 3rd at Aclatraz is perfect for this course and a possible dark horse. Christie had some hiccups as she started the year and really struggled to finish some races. She is slowly figuring things out and is getting more experienced and stronger race by race. Madeleine is a quiet achiever. She has had some really good results this year. Her Falls Creek long distance win was great. She backed up a week later for a third behind Michelle Wu and Matilda Raynolds at the Huskisson Long Course triathlon in Australia. Falls Creek was at altitude, was dry and the run was tough.
New Zealand’s Joanna Lawn has won four 70.3 triathlons this year (Port of Tauranga, Port Macquarie, Busselton and Korea) and the 8 times Ironman New Zealand champion will also be incredibly hard to beat. Lawn recently grabbed the final Kona spot and this will be a good hit out for her in the lead up.
In the men’s race the Australian’s are super hot!! All are possible podium finishers with some incredibly strong results this year. Joe Gambles and Craig Alexander would possibly be the picks if they are 100% but it is a bit unfair to say that with Matty White, Tim Berkel, Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Paul Matthews, Chris Legh, Richie Cunningham all racing. I haven’t seen Josh Rix racing recently but his run at Vineman was 1:18 which is getting back to where he should be. It was still a few minutes off the pace but much faster than his previous few races. Josh is going much better right now than his recent race results show. He will be strong for the race.
The Kiwi boys will also go well. Cam Brown and Terrenzo are both out. Graham O’Grady and Guy Crawford will go well. Not sure how Bryan Rhodes will go.
In saying all of that Craig Alexander will win the men’s race. Many things could happen on the day but let’s put it out there. Crowie is riding stronger than ever and let’s face it he can run as well. Crowie cruised to a win at Ironman Coeur D’Alene in June after a long period of sickness and no training.Craig raced at Racine 70.3 but this was no indication of where he was at. He was nursing a broken rib and only raced to validate his entry to Las Vegas.
This is Joe Gambles first season where he hasn’t been sick or injured. His recent course record breaking win at Boulder 70.3 and his fourth last year off only a few weeks of training last year has given him a lot of confidence going in to this race. Gambles won in Port Macquarie in May convincingly and is looking one of the guys to beat this weekend.
This is Luke Bell is in good form. Whilst I am saying Crowie will win, Bell is one that could beat him. Bell has had some great results this season and is very fast.
The good oil is that Matty White is 110% Kona focused and did a 5 hour bike ride today.
Tim Berkel is an unknown. He should go 15th or better. He has possibly been a little flat after his win at Challenge Copenhagen. If it is a really really hot day look for Tim to go top ten.
Tim Reed is not racing. This is a strong man’s course and Reed would need a much more
specific prep to race successfully. The
heat would help the his asthma.
Paul Ambrose is super strong on the bike right now but will his run be quick enough to get him in to the top 5?
A few of the qualifiers have not taking their slots due to a number of reasons. Christian Kemp is out with more Achilles problems. He intends to race at Port Macquarie 70.3 in November and the Asia Pacific 70.3 champs in December.
Looking at the international field in the women’s race Jodie Swalllow has battled plantar fasciitis all season and is unlikely to have the run milage to be her usual threat. Leanda Cave is a likely podium. Angela Naeth has shown enormous improvements in the last two seasons. Naeth should be there up until the last 5kms in the run. Karin Thuerig could have the fastest bike split as the current Kona bike record holder. Thuerig’s swim will be her Achilies heel. Canada’s Magali Tisseyre will be right up there and in contention. Heather Jackson will be in the top ten. Catriona Morrison is a no brainer for a top ten and should be in the top 5 easily. Melanie McQuaid is a top Xterra athlete. How she will go in the road triathlons will be an unknown. Desiree Ficker has not had any great results since her result at Kone last year.
Julie Dibens is another likely podium. She is super strong at the moment. Linsey Corbin will also be top ten. Mary Ellis should be tired after 3 Ironman wins in the last 6 months.
In the men’s race the non ANZACS will push our guys to the limit. Filip Ospaly is a great runner when in form. However his form is in question right now. Paul Amey is one of those athletes that you just can’t read. Could be hot or cold. Those in the know are saying that Maxim Kriat is not in form. Chris LIETO- Unknown. Races have not been great this season, marred by injury. Has been a long time since his last race so he could be in ripping shape. Whilst Andy Potts has been racing a little flat in the last few races he still should go between 3rd and 8th. James Cunnama has had injury woes of lately. He was exceptional early season form winning Rev 3 Quassy and more. Matt Lieto should go low teens. Raynard Tissink will go top ten if he is in form. This is a great course for Ben Hoffman and he should go top ten. Sebastian Kienle should also be a potential top five with his exceptional cycling skills!! This is a great course for Michael Weiss and he is also a potential top. He is an exceptional cyclist. Jesse Thomas is a great runner but will be too far back out of the swim. Richard Allen is a dark horse for top ten.
|Mirinda Carfrae (AQ)||AUS||No|
|Terenzo Bozzone (AQ)||NZL||No|