One of the hottest fields assembled in the Southern Hempisphere races on Sunday in Auckland, New Zealand. Whilst there are a few athletes from outside Australia and New Zealand the real battle will be for trans Tasman pride. Athletes like Paul Ambrose, whilst it shows UK on the start list is for all intents and purposes an Aussie and will also be racing for an Australian win. Most of the other non ANZACs are regular Australian residents over summer. The main exception being Cameron Dye from the US. Dye is a non drafting Olympic distance specialist these days and his swim / bike will be one of the fastest in the race. The unknown is how fast he will be able to run the 21.1kms. He has posted some solid 32min 10kms but many of his triathlon run times are a slightly slower than many of the guys he will be racing on Sunday.
The swim course will offer the strong swimmers a few opportunities to try to shake the weaker swimmers. There are 5 turns that they will use to attempt to get a gap on their opponents. The bike course on Sunday will be fast with only a couple of opportunities for the strong cyclists to get away. Win in the later half could be an issue with the ride around the waterfront heading out past Mission Bay. The run is dead flat with only a lot of turns around the wharves providing opportunities to break opponents.
There are simply too many great triathletes racing this weekend to do them all justice. The man that many are saying is the favourite is Bevan Docherty. He showed last year that he is a very fast 70.3 athlete and will be wanting this win as a Kiwi. With his known ability to hurt more than most Docherty will be the one to beat.
Based on current form Graham O’Grady would have to be equal favourite but then what about Terenzo Bozzone, Cameron Brown, Joe Gambles, Tim Reed and Tim Berkel who are among the names that could take this race out and then throw in Paul Ambrose who will be leaving nothing out there on the swim and bike. O’Grady has won his last two half iron distance races beating Terenzo and Cameron Brown in Tauranga and also winning the Taupo Half at the end of 2012.
Even though Bozzone was beaten by O’Grady he is still the name many are saying should win. He caught O’Grady on the run at Tauranga but then O’Grady managed to pull away and take the win. That was unusual for Bozzone.
Brown would love to win this title in front of a home crowd. The most prolific winner of ironman and half ironman races in New Zealand, Brown would see a victory in this as being the icing on the cake.
If Tim Reed can limit the gap in the swim his strong ride and even stronger run will put him up amongst the leaders at the pointy end of the race. Reed won the recent Canberra 70.3 with a devastating run that saw him quickly erase the 2min+ gap that the faster swim/bikers had put on him. On his day Reed is one of the fastest runners over the distance. Reed was narrowly beaten for the win at the hastily arranged Taupo 70.3 last year.
Tim Berkel won the Australian 70.3 pro title in Mandurah last October. In this race Berkel put in a devastating bike leg that blew away the competition and backed it up with a 1:15:42 run. Berkel has been focusing on bringing his swim up a level over the last year so we are looking forward to seeing how he goes with this strong field.
Luke Bell will be looking to be leading the race out of the swim but with the depth of strong swimmers in this race he will not be alone. We have seen Joseph Lampe improving in every race. He will be also be one of the leaders out of the water and will not give away anything on the bike. Along with Lampe will be some other Australian young guns who can swim and ride. Sam Betten, James Hodge and Sam Appleton could just as easily be the front guys on to the bike. Betten has shown this at a couple of 70.3 race in Australia recently. Appleton is an ex ITU athlete who took a year off after getting burnt out and is now back racing long course. Hodge had his first 70.3 race back after injury at Canberra and after leading the race along with Lampe out of T2 he quickly fatigued on the run due to a lack of miles in his legs. The winner of Bussleton 70.3 2012 will be stronger on Sunday and could surprise.
We haven’t seen Joe Gambles form recently but we have heard that he has been training strongly and is always a danger man over this distance.
A dark horse in this race is Christian Kemp. Over the three disciplines Kemp is possibly the fastest in the world. He can lead the swim, ride as fast if not faster than most and he can run 1:12s over the distance. A niggling injury and nutrition have seen him struggle to put all three together in one race.
Australia’s Michael Fox is another strong swimmer who should be there with the leaders out of T1. He exited T1 with Joseph Lampe and James Hodge in the lead at the Canberra 70.3 but suffered a mechanical fairly soon in to the bike leg. He had a nseaky hit out at the Nowra Olympic distance triathlon last Sunday and cruised to a win making sure that he conserved his run legs. Fox trained full time for a few months last year for the first time in his career. He is looking forward to gaining some vauable experience this weekend as are most of the young up and coming guys. This is an opportunity for them to race in an incredibly deep field with many of the worlds best triathletes.
In the women’s race there are a handful who could win at Auckland. The name most are talking about is Caroline Steffen. However Meredith Kessler, Melissa Hauschildt, Annabel Luxford and Liz Blatchford could all win this race. Kessler beat Hauschildt last year at Vineman 70.3, Hauschildt got over the top of Blatchford to win the Mandurah 70.3, Luxford won her second attempt at 70.3 in Canberra and felt that she was still no where near she should be to win the big races.
Other athletes like Anna Cleaver will be amongst the mix. For our money Cleaver will lead out of the swim and will then be the women the rest will be chasing on the bike leg. Japan’s Kiyomi Niwata could also surprise. The ex ITU triathlete will be very strong.
Former ITU world champion Annabel Luxford is so strong over all three disciplines it will be hard to see past her if she has added some extra speed since Canberra. Luxford felt that she was still 5mins off on the run but knew that she had it in her to get there.
Cleaver just trailed Luxford out of the swim at Canberra but was not a full strength. Something she says she is now. Cleaver also has been putting in some big gains over Xmas on the bike and run. The other women will be looking for her feet at the start. With a 3min start gap Cleaver could easily swim in to many of the male pros ahead.
Michelle Wu didn’t have her best race at Canberra but under the watchful eye of Darren Smith she will have been fine tuning her preparation.
Melissa Hauschildt loves a chase and she will be doing this on Sunday. Still a bit off the pace in the swim she is the most devastating bike/ runner in the game when she is on fire. The other leading women know that they have to put 5-6mins in to her on the swim if they are going to have any chance of holding her out. The few hills on the bike will provide Hauschildt with some terrain she loves and if the wind picks up she will love it. The harder the ride the better! The flat run may not be ideal as she loves it tough to get the edge over the other women. The former Commonwealth Games 3000m Steeplechase silver medalist is loving her new sport.
Sydney’s Rebecca Hoschke has been on the rise in the last few months. With a full time career she has somehow found time to place second at Port Macquarie 70.3 in October and third at Ironman Western Australia in December. Hoschke is getting stronger every race. Kat Baker and Sarah Crowley are also on the rise. Crowley won Cairns 70.3 last June and was third at Canberra 70.3 in December.
|1||MPRO||Cameron Brown||New Zealand|
|2||MPRO||Bevan Docherty||New Zealand|
|3||MPRO||Terenzo Bozzone||New Zealand|
|4||MPRO||Tim Van Berkel||Australia|
|7||MPRO||Paul Ambrose||United Kingdom|
|9||MPRO||Graham O’Grady||New Zealand|
|10||MPRO||Clark Ellice||New Zealand|
|25||MPRO||James Bowstead||New Zealand|
|26||MPRO||Mark Bowstead||New Zealand|
|28||MPRO||Fraser Cartmell||United Kingdom|
|29||MPRO||Simon Cochrane||New Zealand|
|30||MPRO||Cameron Dye||United States|
|36||MPRO||Jacson Kluts||New Zealand|
|40||MPRO||Callum Millward||New Zealand|
|44||MPRO||Harry Springall||United Kingdom|
|45||MPRO||Matt Taylor||New Zealand|
|46||MPRO||Brett Tingay||New Zealand|
|48||MPRO||Chris Sanson||New Zealand|
|49||MPRO||Roger Witz Barnes||United Kingdom|
|13||FPRO||Meredith Kessler||United States|
|14||FPRO||Liz Blatchford||United Kingdom|
|19||FPRO||Hilary Wicks||New Zealand|
|51||FPRO||Elaine Brent||New Zealand|
|52||FPRO||Anna Cleaver||New Zealand|
|57||FPRO||Anna Ross||New Zealand|