The Australian triathlon season is now in full swing, with a growing calendar providing choice to competitors all over the country. Although it is Ironman 70.3 Mandurah that has drawn talent from around the world this weekend. We take a look at the line up, including late withdrawals, for a race that is sure to be exciting from start to finish in both the men’s and women’s races.
Yesterday saw the announcement of defending champion, Terenzo Bozzone‘s, withdrawal from the race due to health concerns. Eyes now must surely turn to three-time Ironman and two-time 70.3 World Champion Australian Craig Alexander, and two-time Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Michael Raelert, from Germany. Alexander, whilst not having the race he had hoped for in Kona, reports feeling much fresher than previous years due to a slower marathon split on the Big Island. On a fast course like Mandurah the run is where this race will be won, thus giving Alexander good odds if he bringing in fresh legs.
Raelert has traveled across to Australia and has spent the last week recovering from jet lag, so another trip across the country may take it’s toll on his energy levels this weekend. Although his win in Miami two weeks ago is a sign the German may be returning to form, if he is recovered for Sunday watch for a quick run split and a challenge for the overall win.
Although to predict a two man Aussie/German battle would be foolish, with a start list boasting great depth of talent from former ITU champions, champion long course athletes, and rising long course stars.
Brad Kahlefeldt has been training under the watchful eye of Aeromax’s Grant Giles, learning the art of long course racing with some of Australia’s best Ironman athletes, including Tim Berkel, 7th in Kona just last month.
Tim Reed, coached by Matt Dixon but also a regular with the Aeromax crew, loves a hard and fast 70.3 race, and on his day can match the best runners in the sport, including Alexander.
Ruedi Wild, the rising Swiss start, is coming off a 4th place finish at the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Wiesbaden, following a string of podium finishes this season. Wild is another fast runner and one to watch if he’s within a sniff coming out of transition 2.
Tyler Butterfield started the year off with a bang, winning the highly contested Abu Dhabi Triathlon, but unfortunately had to withdraw from Kona last month due to a lower back injury. Butterfield reported not long after Kona that 2013 was a year of “2 steps backwards”, with 2014 “only 1 step back”. The Bermuda Olympian may have been working through some issues, but if all goes well race day expect to see him in the top five.
Christian Kemp was back atop the podium in Austin last month, showing previous form that appeared to have been missing of late. Kemp has proven many a time that he can compete with, and on his day, beat the best, so it will be interesting to see what the Aussie has to offer come Sunday.
Despite the above talent don’t forget Aussie’s Leon Griffin, Luke Bell, John Polson and Alex Reithmeier, all champion athletes in their own right, and all capable of causing a stir if healthy and injury free. Reithmeier in particular has been on a constant rise recently, showing the fruits of consistent hard work. Reithmeier trains under Pete Clifford and is only in his third year racing professionally. A 3rd place at Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie last month, following 2nd place at Ironman 70.3 Busselton in May, shows promise that this Aussie is steadily learning the ropes and could be challenging for the podium in the big races soon.
Editor’s note: Alex has since informed us he won’t be starting this weekend, due to a calf injury. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him in either Challenge Shepparton, or Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney.
Look forward to a fast and furious race on this flat course with (an often) current assisted swim down the canal. Despite some strong bikers, we predict the run is where this race will unfold.