Can't wait for Cairns

There's lots to look forward to at today's Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship including a stacked men's field and the full-distance return of Mirinda Carfrae after having a baby last year.

| June 9, 2018 | RACES

Terenzo Bozzone takes his second title in just a few months with a sub-eight hour performance at Ironman New Zealand.

Terenzo Bozzone takes his second title in just a few months with a sub-eight hour performance at Ironman New Zealand.

Photo >Courtesy Bahrain Endurance 13

There's been lots of hype about Javier Gomez's debut Ironman race coming at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns, Australia, but Gomez is hardly the only person to watch at the race. Possibly the hottest full-distance racer in the sport over the last six months, Terenzo Bozzone, will certainly be one to watch in the men's race, too.

The women's race promises to be equally as interesting as Mirinda Carfrae returns to full-distance racing in her home country after the arrival of baby Isabelle last year. The three-time Kona champion will certainly have her work cut out to take the women's title, though, with last year's third-place finisher at the Ironman World Championship, Sarah Crowley (AUS), looking to defend her title.

Bozzone/ Gomez duel?

Bozzone (NZL) is coming off two sub-eight hour performances in wins at Ironman Western Australia and Ironman New Zealand. He's been preparing for the Cairns and getting some Kona prep work done in Hawaii, so feels confident he'll be able to handle the expected warm conditions.

Gomez might be making his full-distance debut, but as a two-time Ironman 70.3 world champ (along with the five ITU world titles, Xterra title and Olympic silver medal) Gomez has excelled as he's moved up in distance. All expectations are that the Spaniard has what it takes to be a contender in Kona.

Those two will take on numerous other Ironman champs, including three former winners in Cairns: Australians Luke McKenzie, Tim Van Berkel and David Dellow. Add names like Braden Currie (NZL), Tim O'Donnell (USA), Kyle Buckingham (RSA) and Eneko Llanos (ESP) to the list and you have the makings of a true championship race.

Crowley and Carfrae showdown on the run?

The women's field isn't quite as deep as the men's, but still features a number of big names ready to give Crowley and Carfrae a run for their money at the top of the podium. Lauren Brandon (USA) is likely to lead the way out of the water and for much of the bike, but she'll likely have some company at some point on the bike from Anja Beranek (GER), Other names to watch include Asa Lundstrom (SWE) and Beth McKenzie (USA).

Crowley and Carfrae are both incredibly strong runners, so the challenge for the rest of the women in the field will be to open up enough ground in the swim and bike to hold off the Aussie speedsters. While Carfrae is arguably the best runner the sport has ever seen, Crowley is no slouch in that department, either. Look for those two to put on a show in the marathon.