The professional fields at Port Macquarie 70.3 this year are deep and should make for some great racing. The official start list does not reflect any withdrawals but we have excluded the athletes we know for sure are out.
Taking a quick high level look at the men’s field Tim Berkel, Paul Ambrose, Casey Munro, Sam Appleton, Matty White and Josh Amberger should be the guys to beat. As is usually the case it is really hard to separate the pointy end of the field with so many factors possibly influencing their performances.
One aspect is that we have Mandurah 70.3 coming up and there may not be a lot of tapering for Port Macquarie 70.3 by some in the field who are targeting a podium at Mandurah.
We have seen a dramatic rise in Casey Munro’s speed recently with his form at the Sunshine Coast 70.3 hitting a high note. This is a return to his roots when he was at the VIS for triathlon as a junior.
Just missing out on the medals at Sunshine was Sam Appleton who has been threatening to do something big. Appleton, along with Michael Fox will be amongst the early leaders out of the water and on to the bike. At Yeppoon we saw Tim Berkel put in a faster than usual swim in near perfect conditions and a point to point swim. Fox is also another who is always there at the end but the run speed of a few has been keeping a major podium just out of Fox’s reach.
Port Macquarie will see the swim spread out more than we saw at Yeppoon with Ambrose, Amberger, Fox, Appleton, Lampe and most likely Munro pushing the pace. It would be hard to argue that Amberger won’t lead out of the water and take it to the field as he did recently at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas. There Amberger took on the best in the world and lead until late in the bike. In saying that Amberger threw everything at the swim and bike most likely due to a sprained ankle limiting his run potential.
If Paul Ambrose is in good form then he, like Amberger, could also take it to the field and lay down a tough challenge for Berkel to chase these lead guys down.
South Australia’s Matty White will also threaten in this race. He recently raced MetaMan Bintan and afterwards spoke about giving the iron distance gig away and focusing more on family, coaching, work and racing less taxing races such as 70.3s. White is always threatening and has posted some very good results in tough fields over this distance. You can’t write him off.
Joey Lampe is a young guy who is slowly moving through the fields in races and with his incredibly strong swim and bike and an ever improving run he will give the speedsters in the race this weekend something to think about. With the run speed of Berkel, Appleton, Ambrose and Amberger Lampe will have his work cut out to make the podium this weekend.
One person that is only getting a passing mention in the media is David Mainwaring. Mainwaring recently won the Blackmores 9km in Sydney. The word from Wollongong is that if Mainwaring is anywhere near the leaders off the bike they are going to have their work cut out holding him off. We were swimming with his coach Alex Price and fellow athlete Aaron Royle on Thursday night and they both were bullish about Mainwaring’s chances at Port. As we said he just needs to be in touch off the bike.
Michael Fox has been soaking up the school holidays recently and has had a big training block (Not that this had an impact on a recent 7sec gap between 3rd and 4th at a 40km TT at Kurnell…). Fox is one of the stronger swimmers in the game and can hold the bike if he is in good form. His run is building and with his recent solid focus on training he should be ripe for a solid result this weekend.
Port is a bike course that suits strong riders. Paul Ambrose knows how to ride this course as we saw in 2012 when he won Ironman Australia ahead of local Tim Berkel. Ambrose had a 15min lead off the bike in 2012. He could possibly have a decent lead over much of the field this weekend. Amberger won’t allow him to get away. A prediction is that Ambrose and Amberger will spearhead the race with Munro chasing, Berkel looking to minimise the gap off the bike to give himself a chance to run the leaders down with Appleton and Munro tearing each other apart to take a podium spot.
Michael Fox’s stablemate Alex Reithmeier will be looking for a good result this weekend. He raced at Las Vegas for 24th overall in the strongest field of the year and is on his way to racing his first Ironman at Busselton in December.
It will be good to see Matthew Pellow racing again on home soil after a season over in the states.
If the Kiwi Carl Read is racing then he could be an interesting mid field athlete. He has been quietly building over the last year in to a solid athlete.
Apologies to the rest of the field for lack of mentions. There is a solid field with plenty of great up and coming pros who will be hoping to make a name for themselves this weekend. Port is a tough bike course and will sort the field out.
It sounds like the women’s field is going to be a bit smaller than the official start list. We are not sure who is in and who is out. Oldfield is not racing and neither is Bremer. We hear also that Matilda Raynolds is also not racing.
In the women’s race Lisa Marangon looks like one to beat. Marangon’s run is the only weakness at the moment but she is working on her nutrition and will be looking to have a faster run this weekend. She finished second at Yeppoonn 70.3 and was 5th at the Sunshine Coast 70.3.
Chasing Marangon will be some faster runners in Michelle Wu amongst others. Andrea Forrest is one that we have been keen to see racing again. Forrest was sick and had to pull out of Yeppoon 70.3.
Pip Taylor is making a comeback and it will be great to see her racing again. As a mum she moves in to elite company along with Kiwi Gina Crawford. Taylor will be a great addition to the race.