The hits just keep coming from the Port of Tauranga Half triathlon with news that one of the world’s best over the Half distance will line up alongside defending champion Cameron Brown and a host of other contenders in the elite men’s division.
Terenzo Bozzone has fashioned a record second to none over the distance and has confirmed his entry in the January 5 race, the 24th edition of the iconic race that takes in Mount Maunganui and nearby Papamoa in the heart of the New Zealand summer.
The 27 year old is unbeaten in his last three starts over the distance in 2012 and had no hesitation in choosing the POT Half to commence a big 2013 campaign.
â€œWhen I first started in the sport I would go down and race the POT Half in a team and absolutely loved the vibe around the event. When I moved up to long distance 8 years ago it was one of my first Half distance events and while I did get a puncture and finish 6th I loved every minute of the race.
â€œUnfortunately due to a full-on international racing season I have been unable to get myself in shape for the event the past few years but I am really looking forward to competing in Tauranga as I have a lot of fond memories or racing down there in my early years in the sport.â€
Bozzone knows he will not have things his own way though, with Brown joined by former champion Callum Millward and serial podium contenders Graham O’Grady, James Bowstead and Brodie Madgwick.
â€œOf course racing Brownie is always tough and he brings out the best competitor in me. I tried to stop him from earning 10 Nutri-Grain IM NZ’s but failed, we will now be playing over my distance of speciality and trust I will be an obstacle that he will have to try and overcome.â€
It has been a long haul back to form for Bozzone after undergoing Achilles surgery late in 2011 but the popular Aucklander is confident he is back to his best after an impressive win in Australia (Shepparton) last weekend over the same distance.
â€œComing back from surgery at the end of 2011 was really tough and it took me a lot longer to get back to what I knew I was capable of. After a lot of hard work both on and off the field I feel I am finally back to the fighting ways and I have enjoyed the second half of the season and looking forward to seeing what I can do in 2013 and hopefully having a breakthrough Ironman distance race at the Nutri-Grain IMNZ in March.â€
The last word from Bozzone though is perfect given the idyllic beach location for the event as he ponders the 2km swim, 90km flat bike and 21.1km run that takes in the base track around â€˜The Mount’.
â€œThe Port of Tauranga Half is an iconic race both in New Zealand and internationally. There have been a lot of super stars over the years come to compete and it always brings out a huge crowd of supporters. There need to be more races like this through our summer where we embrace the New Zealand beach culture and bring sport and hard work to great locations with great spectators. I am really excited to be a part of the event on the 5th January and look forward to putting on a great race in front of a home crowd again.â€
The Port of Tauranga Half is of course as iconic for the age group competitors as it is the elites, with Triathlon New Zealand long distance national titles on the line in all age brackets (5 year categories from 19 to 24 and up). The event has again attracted huge fields with athletes making the journey to the Bay of Plenty from around the country and indeed the world.
Demand for his iconic race is high but there are still limited individual and team entries available but selling quickly at www.tgahalf.co.nz
Terenzo Bozzone recent results (courtesy of http://terenzo.blogspot.co.nz/)
1st Ironman 70.3 Shepparton
1st Ironman 70.3 Taiwan
1st Ironman 70.3 Miami
3rd Rev 3 Half Anderson
2nd Ironman 70.3 Ireland
1st Ironman 70.3 Brazil