Piampiano, Crowley and Holst highlight Cairns field

Sarah Piampiano, Sarah Crowley and Tine Holst lead the field for this weekend’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns.

| June 8, 2017 | NEWS

Archive photo: Sarah Piampiano wins Ironman Vineman in 2016.

Archive photo: Sarah Piampiano wins Ironman Vineman in 2016.

Photo >Larry Rosa

This weekend’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns offers the winner a guaranteed Kona slot along with a $30,000 pay day, making it one of five such opportunities on Ironman’s regional championship calendar. Heading into Sunday’s race the women’s pro race looks to be a battle between a couple of Ironman champs and last year’s third-place finisher. (That said, it’s an Ironman and a regional championship – there will certainly be lots of other women determined to be in the mix.)

Click here for the full start list for Sunday's race.

Sarah Piampiano (USA) has a couple of Ironman titles under her belt – one from Western Australia in 2015 and last year’s Ironman Vineman in California. She arrives in beautiful Cairns as the likely women’s favorite.

“I feel great about my preparation for Cairns,” says Piampiono. “My build from the beginning of the season has gone very smoothly and I feel like I am coming into the right fitness at the right time. I have heard amazing things about the course, the crowds and how the event is put on. I've raced in Melbourne and multiple times in Western Australia, but never in Queensland and so many people have told me that Ironman Cairns is one of their favourite Ironman races on the circuit. So I am really excited to experience it for myself.”

Last year’s Ironman Lanzarote champion, Tine Holst (DEN), was forced to call it a day early in Lanzarote this year as a flu bug sidelined her on race day.

"It's my first time racing Cairns and I'm looking so much forward to this race,” Holst says. “I have heard it is called IRONMAN in paradise and a must do IRONMAN, so I'm really happy to finally make it to Cairns.”

“Championship races always have a great line up, so I am hoping for a brilliant race day where everything falls perfectly together and my good training build will show off on race day."

Australian Sarah Crowley arrives in Cairns with likely the best knowledge of the course. Based in Brisbane she considers the event her “home race” and took the 70.3 Cairns title in 2012.

“I have raced either the 70.3 or IM at Cairns every year since 2012 when I won the 70.3 title,” says Crowley. “I received a boomerang with a note that has been willing me back. So I have a lot of experience on this course, all versions of it. The event has mixed weather and the heat and humidity cannot be underestimated on the run, nor can the winds or the potential for afternoon rain on the bike. Conditions are always tough which makes for a good battle.” 

Crowley is likely to lead the other two favorites out of the swim (which could be led by Canadian Karen Thibodeau) and will look to maintain her lead on the bike. Holst had a very strong bike in Lanzarote last year and could very well work her way towards the front of the race. 

It's the run, though, where Piampiono holds the "trump card" compared to her competition. A potential sub-three hour marathon puts her in pretty good stead as she prepares for another big day in Kona in October - her seventh place finish on the Big Island and a third place finish in Western Australia have all but guaranteed her a Kona slot for this year.