Weekend Race Preview

Top PTO Athletes are in action this weekend with racing kicking off down under at Ironman New Zealand and Ironman 70.3 Geelong. We also have some long-course stars testing their mettle against the world’s best with some ultra-short-course racing at the Super League Triathlon Arena Games in London.

Ironman New Zealand 2021 Preview

Date: 27 March
Location: Taupo, New Zealand
Time: 18:50 GMT (26 March)
Prize Money: $50,000 – pays 8 deep $7,500 to $1,000
Format: 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run
Course: Lake swim, rolling bike, flat run

Key Athletes:

International:
Braden Currie (PTO #11) / Mike Phillips (PTO #25) / Kyle Smith (PTO #33)
Hannah Wells (PTO #29)

The traditional Ironman season opener returns just a few weeks after its original COVID-disrupted date, meaning the all-Kiwi line-up gets the chance to fight it out on home soil for a slice of the $50,000 prize purse.

Weekend Race Preview

THE BIG STORIES
While the men’s race is packed with talent – including Uber-biker Mike Phillips (PTO #25), who was second last year, and 48-year-old legend Cameron Brown – the story of the event could well be the on-going rivalry between Braden Currie (PTO #11) and young gun Kyle Smith (PTO #33).

The 23-year-old is unbeaten at half distance and has kept Currie from the top step at the Tauranga Half and Challenge Wanaka this year. That said, this will be Smith’s first full-distance race and he’s only just stayed ahead of the fast-charging Currie when they’ve gone head-to-head, so it should be a classic clash in Taupo.

Between Currie, Smith and Phillips, we could potentially see three Kiwis line up for Team Internationals men’s squad at the Collins Cup this August.

In the women’s race, it’s a four-strong line-up with Hannah Wells (PTO #29), Rebecca Clarke, Melanie Burke and neo-pro Emily McNaughtan. While Burke has the most Ironman experience and Clarke the highest position at Ironman New Zealand (fifth in 2019), eyes will be on Wells for her full-distance debut following a string of 70.3 wins. A win here would put even more attention on her as one to watch for the Team Internationals captains.

WHAT THE PROS SAY

Kyle Smith on going long:
“My foray into long course has been amazingly rewarding so far. It suits my body and style of racing… So far in my long course career I have led from start to finish by myself, the only thing I can do is keep racing the way I have and hope that the International Captains see me as an asset for the team at the Collins Cup….[This weekend] It’s going to take everything I have to win and all I know is that I can push my body into some very dark places and hopefully that’s what will make the difference at the finish.”

Weekend Race Preview

Ironman 70.3 Geelong 2021 Preview

Date: 28 March
Location: Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Time: 20:32 GMT (27 March)
Prize Money: $30,000 – pays 8 deep $4,000 to $750
Format: 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run
Course: Sea swim, rolling bike, rolling run

Key Athletes:

International:
Josh Amberger (PTO #30) / Tim Reed (PTO #31) / Tim Van Berkel (PTO #39)
Amelia Watkinson (PTO #18) / Ellie Salthouse (PTO #21)

Across the water from New Zealand, we’ve also got racing at Ironman 70.3 Geelong, which has courted a deep field of Team Internationals prospects.

THE BIG STORIES

In the men’s event, Josh Amberger (PTO #30) is bound to showcase his swim-bike props at the head of the race, but the 11-time 70.3 champ, who’s also on the verge of automatic Collins Cup selection, won’t have it all his own way. Tim Reed (PTO #31) sits just one place behind Amberger on the PTO World Rankings while Tim Van Berkel (PTO #39) and Matt Burton (PTO #42) are also in the mix.

Let’s not forget Simon Hearn either, who showed great form at the PTO-supported Big Husky to take the Australian long-course champs away from 2020 title holder Amberger in February.

The women’s race should be a scorcher with the recently crowned Australian long-course champ Ellie Salthouse looking to back-up her Big Husky victory and get ever closer to an automatic qualification spot for the Collins Cup.

However, the event also gives an opportunity for the likes of Amelia Watkinson (PTO #18) and returning supermum Annabel Luxford to take another pop at Salthouse (PTO #21) – so it could be a make-or-break race to show who’s the form athlete for 2021.

WHAT THE PROS SAY

Ellie Salthouse on taking her Husky form into Geelong:
“I know that in order to cement my spot on Team International I need to continue to earn valuable points and impress Team Captain, Craig Alexander… I intend to go into 70.3 Geelong with the same intentions and race plan as Husky, but with an additional four weeks of training and improved fitness.”

Josh Amberger on his versatility as a Collins Cup competitor:
“My skillset should be seen as an asset to the Internationals Collins Cup team as I have reliability in all three legs. I can set the terms of races with my dominant swim, yet my all-round agility means I can also respond to races. 70.3 Geelong this weekend gives me a shot to show this once more – that I punch above my weight in the middle distance over a host of strong men.”

Weekend Race Preview

Super League Triathlon Arena Games London 2021 Preview

Date: 27 March
Location: London, UK
Time: 15:00 GMT
Format: 200m swim, 4km bike, 1km run
Course: Pool swim, Zwift bike, Zwift run

Key Athletes:

Europe:
Lucy Charles-Barclay (PTO #2)
George Goodwin (PTO #15)

Now for a literal change of pace as some of the world’s top long-course specialists go toe-to-toe with the short course triathletes in the second-ever SLT Arena Games.Weekend Race Preview

THE BIG STORIES

This race format combines various combinations of 200m pool swims, 4km Zwift rides and 1km Zwift runs – with three short races and minimal recovery.

Held at the London Aquatics Centre, the venue is the current training pool of PTO all-star Lucy Charles-Barclay (PTO #2). Along with fellow long-distance athlete Ruth Astle, Charles-Barclay will be pitching her strength against some of World Triathlon’s fastest athletes including 2020 World Triathlon Champion Georgia Taylor-Brown.

Meanwhile, bona fide triathlon royalty Tim Don, PTO 2020 Championship podium-getter George Goodwin (PTO #15) and Reece Charles-Barclay will fly the flag for non-drafting athletes in the men’s race.

There might not be PTO World Rankings points on the line, but a good performance here demands versatility, coolness under pressure and serious speed – all of which could catch the eye of the Team Europe Collins Cup captains.

WHAT THE PROS SAY

Lucy Charles-Barclay on racing short course:
“[It’s] the complete opposite end of the triathlon spectrum from my normal distance but I like to think swim, bike, run are disciplines I know well and can perform in. My skill at fast swimming should allow me to mix it with the short course ladies, with the bike and run sections looking like a complete sufferfest which I love to get stuck into… I don’t believe in racing in your comfort zone.”

George Goodwin on how the SLT Arena Games will prepare him for the Collins Cup:
“The Collins Cup is going to push people to their limit and although the SLT Arena games has very little in common with a middle-distance race, I’ll be outside my natural comfort zone. It’s another opportunity for me to push those limits as that’s what it will take for The Collins Cup in August”Weekend Race Preview

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