Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Front Page -

the start in beau­ti­ful Lake Las Ve­gas fol­lowed by a hilly bike through spec­tac­u­lar Lake Mead State Park, the first two legs of the Ironman 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship in­clude some spec­tac­u­lar scenery along with some im­pres­sive views of the Las Ve­gas strip as the rid­ers fin­ish the bike course. The three-loop run in the heart of Hen­der­son, Nev. is de­cep­tively tough, with some long, grad­ual climbs that en­sure this is a true cham­pi­onship course.

Craig Alexan­der won the first race in Hen­der­son two years ago on his way to a his­toric dou­ble that saw him win in Kona just four weeks later. Last year Le­anda Cave man­aged the same feat. Those two will ar­rive at this year’s cham­pi­onship as two of the favourites, but there’s a long list of ath­letes who have very le­git­i­mate chances of tak­ing the ti­tle.

Last year Se­bas­tian Kienle blew by the rest of the lead men and opened up enough of a gap to hold off Alexan­der and for­mer Olympic sil­ver and bronze medal­list Be­van Docherty. Alexan­der had a tough fall last year due to some back is­sues. That might make him more dan­ger­ous than ever this year – his dou­ble win in 2011 came af­ter a tough Kona race in 2004 that saw him fin­ish fourth. De­spite the fact that he turned 40 in June, the five-time world cham­pion ap­pears to be as fit and de­ter­mined as ever to re­turn to the top of the podium in these cham­pi­onship events. Even if he has a great race, though, Alexan­der hardly ar­rives as a shoe-in favourite when you con­sider that ath­letes like Tim O’Don­nell, Greg Ben­nett, Andy Potts (the 2010 world cham­pion who is likely to lead out of the wa­ter), Terenzo Boz­zone (2008 world cham­pion) and Aus­tralian Olympian Brad Kahle­feldt are also likely to be in the hunt for the win.

Cana­dian hopes lie in yet an­other Olympian who has moved up, Brent McMa­hon. He dom­i­nated Ironman 70.3 St. Ge­orge ear­lier this year over a stacked field and proved that he can com­pete with the very best in the sport. He’s a very le­git­i­mate con­tender for this cham­pi­onship.

While Cave has proven that she is amongst the strong­est in the sport over the last few months of the year, she’ll ar­rive in Ve­gas and Kona with a huge tar­get on her back. One of the women who will be look­ing hard at that tar­get is Cana­dian Angela Naeth, who ap­peared to be on track for a top per­for­mance in Ve­gas last year be­fore a crash on the bike took her out of con­tention. Lead­ing the 70.3 stand­ings as we go to print is an­other Cana­dian, Heather Wurtele, who is on her own tear this sea­son with a course-record win in Coeur d’Alene along with 70.3 wins in Panama and Cal­gary and a win at Rev3 Quassy to her credit. Other women to watch for are Heather Jack­son and Cana­dian Ma­gali Tis­seyre.

This will be the last world cham­pi­onship event held in Hen­der­son – the world cham­pi­onship will start mov­ing around over the next few years, be­gin­ning with next year’s world cham­pi­onship event in Mont-Trem­blant. In ad­di­tion to the im­pres­sive pro field, age group ath­letes from around the world will no doubt jump on their chance to mix a cham­pi­onship race with a Ve­gas va­ca­tion.

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