Welsh Superstar Cave’s entry sets up Thrilling Title Duel
In a major coup for Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket, recently-crowned 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Leanda Cave has joined the ranks of top professional athletes set to appear at this year’s event.
Cave signed up for Laguna Phuket less than 24 hours after completing her epic World Championship victory in Las Vegas on 9 October – and before resuming training for her next title bid at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on 13 October.
Her Laguna confirmation has set up a thrilling duel with 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Champion and defending Laguna Phuket 70.3 Champion Melissa Hauschildt of Australia – beaten into fourth place in Las Vegas by Cave – who will be eager not to lose another title to the Welsh superstar.
“To have the brand new Ironman 70.3 World Champion immediately accept our invitation to race at Laguna Phuket is a testament to the drawing power and popularity which characterises our race on the pro circuit,” said Debbie Dionysius, Assistant Vice President of Destination Marketing, Laguna Phuket.
“Attracting such top talent is an indication of the international stature we’ve achieved and we’re looking forward to a fantastic display of world-class competition.”
The Laguna Phuket 2012 competitive mix is also fuelled by Czech Olympian Radka Vodickova and Australian veteran Belinda Granger – both vying to become the first women’s Triple Champion of Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT), a week earlier on 25 November – and also with points to prove in the 70.3.
Cave, an ITU World Long Distance Champion, is hitting peak form in the run-up to Kona and Laguna, despite an indifferent start to the year that followed a spectacular end to her 2011 season when she recorded a third-place finish at the Ironman World Championship, a win at Ironman 70.3 Miami, runner-up finish at the ITU World Long Distance Championship in Las Vegas and her first Ironman title in Arizona.
Born in the UK, Cave emigrated as a child to Australia, before moving back to the UK with her Welsh mother. She now lives and trains in Tucson, Arizona and races for both Wales and Great Britain.
Cave is no stranger to Phuket, having raced LPT in 2006 when she was second-placed behind Canadian Samantha McGlone, who then went on to become 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Champion.
Hauschildt, currently battling back from an injury-hit season, made a determined defence of her World 70.3 title in Las Vegas, but her fourth place was more than seven minutes behind Cave’s winning time of 4:28:05.
At Laguna Phuket she’ll be aiming to hold off the challenges of Cave, Rodickova, Granger and a field of other top pros to hold onto her 2011title, which she won with a course record of 4:17:01.
In the men’s field, American Ironman Chris Lieto, with three top 10 finishes in the Ironman World Championships, will race both LPT and the 70.3, while confirmations are awaited from more big names, such as two-time 70.3 World Champion and 2011 Laguna 70.3 Champion Michael Raelert of Germany, and Australian legend Craig Alexander, 2011 Ironman World Champion and Ironman 70.3 World Champion.