April 15, 2021

Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

The USA race season continues at Ironman 70.3 Florida this Sunday, with several athletes down to race back-to-back after toeing the line in Texas last weekend.

This year’s event in Haines City is the first edition to have a pro field since 2014 and with the enormous appetite to race any solid fixture on the calendar, nearly 40 men and 20 women are ready to fight it out.

Some highly ranked PTO athletes will be making the trip to gain Collins Cup qualification points as well as to fast-track race experience after a barren season before major competitions later in the year. Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN?

Date: April 18
Location: Haines City, Florida, USA
Time: 11:50am BST
Prize Money: $30,000 – pays 9 deep $4,000 to $750
Format: 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run
Course: Lake swim, flat bike, flat run

KEY ATHLETES

USA

Matt Hanson (USA #2) / Justin Metzler (USA 11)
Skye Moench (USA #3) / Heather Jackson (USA #6) / Lesley Smith (USA #11)

Europe

Joe Skipper (EUR #5) / Andreas Dreitz (EUR #8)
Emma Pallant-Browne (EUR #15)

International

Jackson Laundry (INT #16) / Taylor Reid (INT #20) / Bradley Weiss (INT #27)
Jeanni Metzler (INT #6)

Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

THE BIG STORIES

In the men’s race, seven of the top 10 in Texas are down to start in Florida. Matt Hanson (USA #2) is the top seed and will be searching for less of a deficit coming off the bike than in Galveston. That could be a tough ask, though, as Joe Skipper (EUR #5), Andreas Dreitz (EUR #8) and Magnus Ditlev (EUR #12) are sure to push the pace on two wheels.

If Hanson can limit his losses, however, his current position of being the sport’s fastest runner could well give him victory and add yet more points to back-up his Collins Cup auto qualification. We can only hope that a close-knit pack comes out of T2 together so we can see a serious battle – hopefully between Hanson for Team USA, Skipper for Team Europe and Jackson Laundry (INT #16), the highest-ranked Internationals athlete.

The women’s race also has several Texas finishers on the start list including the winner in Galveston, Skye Moench (USA #3), second place Jeanni Metzler (INT #6) and fourth place Heather Jackson (USA #6). Add in a return to racing for the fresh legs of Emma Pallant-Browne (EUR #15) and there’s plenty of depth in the field.

With Metzler being the swifter swimmer, it’s likely she’ll have the bike course to herself to begin with, but given Moench rode 7:43 into her in Texas, it’s a fair bet the South African will be playing catch-up by the run. However, with the bike-run prowess of Pallant-Browne in the mix, the women’s race could deliver a fascinating pre-Collins Cup matchup.

Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

KEEP AN EYE ON

Jackson Laundry (INT #16) had the day’s second-fastest run in Texas, his 1:10:52 half marathon faster than winner Lionel Sanders (INT #1) and bested only by Hanson. That’s a split that’s sure to catch the attention of Collins Cup Team Internationals captains.

Taylor Reid (INT #20) had a string of great results in 2019, coming top-five in no less than seven 70.3 events. If he can recapture that form in a post-lockdown world, he’s certainly a podium threat with the consistency to be considered for a captain’s pick.

Lesley Smith (USA #11) has 11 70.3 podiums to her name, was 22nd in Kona 2019, the same placing in Challenge Daytona 2020 and 12th in Miami. She’s got the experience form to threaten the best in Haines City and make a bid for Collins Cup selection.

Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

WHAT THE PROS SAY

Emma Pallant-Browne on getting back to racing: “I am really looking forward to Florida, it’s been a pretty big task to get the travel organised but once we are safely there, I can’t wait to put everything I have into a race and get the best result I can! I love to race and I think all the girls on the start-list will be thinking the same and giving their all!”

Taylor Reid on how to get on the radar of the Collins Cup captains: “With such an amazing Internationals team, the only way to get the attention of the captains is to get to the front and show them you have the guts to race with the best in the world. A few wins and podiums will be key to catching their eye – and I will be giving everything in Florida to get onto the podium.”

Lesley Smith on how she’ll make her mark for the Collins Cup in Florida: “I think I can show the captains that, namely since around Daytona, my fitness and performance level continue to be on the up and up.”

Race Preview: Ironman 70.3 Florida

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