New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone and Swiss superstar Caroline Steffen are looking to finish the year in style with victory at the SunSmart IRONMAN 70.3 Mandurah on Sunday.
Steffen will jump straight back into racing after a disappointing 10th at last month’s IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.
“I got ill in the lead up to the World Champs and wasn’t really able to reach my full potential on race day. I guess that last 20 percent of effort I wasn’t able to retrieve helps to recover quicker. Other years I felt much worse after digging very deep in Hawaii,” Steffen said.
For Bozzone racing at Mandurah represents a chance at redemption after illness forced him to withdraw from his title defence last year.
“I was gutted about not being able to defend my title in Mandurah last year, I had an awesome experience there in 2013,” he said. “My form is really good and I’m looking forward to getting over there and seeing what I can do.”
Bozzone will be joined on the start line by Australian Luke Bell, who had a tough day on Hawaii’s Big Island after he was taken into medical at the completion of the bike leg. Bell underwent a battery of tests to make sure he was in the right physical condition to race in Mandurah. In Hawaii his blood pressure dropped to 80/40, he required three intravenous bags and still weighed in 1.5kg under his pre-race weight.
“I have been poked and prodded since being home and there are a few red flags that have popped up,” says Bell.
“I used the same nutrition plan as I used at IRONMAN Port Macquarie and Mont-Tremblant, but there are a few things that I may need to adjust in hotter conditions as it looks like the stress (heat/humidity) makes my body react differently. I race well in heat, but humidity is the kicker.”
The pair will be challenged by a group of international athletes including the 2014 SunSmart IRONMAN Western Australia champion Denis Chevrot (FRA), German Per Bitner, who finished third last year, and Seychelles pro-Nick Baldwin.
Post Kona Steffen had a week off and then started injecting some speed into her workouts in a bid to be ready to race strongly at Mandurah.
â€œMandurah is such a great spot to race and spectacular course too. Unique swim in the canal and the run course is just super-fast,â€ she said.
Steffen’s main competition looks set to come from Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED). The pair staged a memorable battle at the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship in March that saw the Dutch star overtake Steffen in the finish chute.
“It will be interesting to see how I go after a very long, but successful European season,” Van Vlerken said.
The women’s field also includes German Mareen Hufe, second at 2014 IRONMAN Western Australia, local Katy Gibb, who made her pro debut in Mandurah last year, and Great Britain’s Laura Siddall, who was fifth at IRONMAN 70.3 Vineman.