Bozzone and Siddall look to defend in Taupo

Last year's winners, Terenzo Bozzone and Laura Siddall are back to defend their titles at Ironman New Zealand, the first Ironman qualifying event. They are in for a challenge thanks to the tough field that is assembled.

| March 1, 2019 | NEWS

After an accident sidelined him for much of last year, Terenzo Bozzone came back for a big win at Ironman Western Australia. Can he defend his title in New Zealand this weekend?

After an accident sidelined him for much of last year, Terenzo Bozzone came back for a big win at Ironman Western Australia. Can he defend his title in New Zealand this weekend?

Photo >Delly Carr

Last year was, for Terenzo Bozzone, filled with lots of highs and lows. Following victories at Ironman New Zealand and three Ironman middle-distance events in Bariloche, Argentina, Campeche, Mexico and Busselton, New Zealand, the 34-year-old Australian looked on track for another big day at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. (He had finished sixth in Kona in 2017.)

Then in July, he had a big setback. While training on his bike, he was hit by a truck, sustaining a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures and cuts on his face. His career hung by the thread, but Bozzone decided to fight. His hard work was rewarded at the end of last year - over a one week period he won Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney and then Ironman Western Australia.

Bozzone will start this season at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo.

Bozzone will face a lot of competition, though. Braden Currie, the champion in Taupo in 2017 and fifth in Kona last year will certainly arrive as a co-favorite. Also on the line will be uber-biker Andrew Starykowicz. The ageless Cameron Brown, a 12-time champion at the event in his home country, continues to amaze with his top finishes and will certainly keep the rest of the field honest. Another man to watch is Tim Reed, the Australian Ironman 70.3 world champion from 2016.

Women's podium back

The top three from last year's race are all on the starting list. After her victory in 2018 and first-place finishes at Ironman Australia and the ETU European Long Distance Championship, Laura Siddall enters the race as a clear favorite. She's in for a tough challenge, though, in the form of Meredith Kessler, a five-time Ironman New Zealand champion, who has been on a steady roll since the birth of her son Mak at the end of 2017. Kessler had numerous podium finishes in her comeback since becoming a mother, including 70.3 titles in Mont-Tremblant and Raleigh and most recently took second at Challenge Wanaka, one spot ahead of Siddall.

As it was last year, another woman who is likely to be in the mix is Australian Teresa Adam, who finished second last year. Last year's third-place finisher, Jocelyn McCauley (USA) is also back and will certainly be in the mix as well.