This year’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) will see an intriguing battle when two elite pro athletes face-off to become the first-ever women’s triple Champion of the iconic event.
Australian Belinda Granger and Czech Olympian Radka Vodickova are among the first pro registrations for LPT 2012 on Sunday 25 November and the Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket a week later on Sunday 2 December.
The enduring appeal of LPT, now in its 19th year, and the unique challenges of Laguna Phuket’s Ironman 70.3 are attracting entries from leading international pro athlete personalities, as well as age groupers worldwide.
In LPT, Laguna veteran Granger, champion in 2008 and 2010, will again find her bid to lift a unique third title threatened by the younger Vodickova, who beat her into second place last year by just over three minutes.
And Vodickova, still buzzing from her London Olympic Games experience with the Czech triathlon team, is keen to repeat her 2009 and 2011wins to crown a memorable season and become LPT’s first three-time women’s Champion, a year after Italian Massimo Cigana achieved that feat in the men’s field.
“To compete for this honour against the legendary Belinda Granger will make it a fantastic race,” she said.
“Belinda was a big part of my first LPT victory – I was inexperienced with the distance and unsure on the bike course, so I just tried to follow Belinda and hoped I could survive her pace.
“Competing at the London Olympics Games was such a fantastic experience – the huge crowds were cheering so loudly all the way around the course that I still had ringing in my ears at the end of the day!
“I finished 20th, but I was happy with the result as I’d crashed on the bike and lost the leading pack for a while, and it was pretty tough to catch up again.”
Granger, a multiple Ironman champion in her distinguished career, said: “It’s going to be a tough ask to beat Radka – she’s coming off an amazing season of racing, including the London Olympics – but I’m looking forward to the challenge!
“For the past two years I’ve used LPT as a warm-up for the 70.3 a week later, but this year I’m changing things around and LPT will be my key race. I love the distance as it’s so unique and the course really suits my strengths.”
Ironman 70.3 Champion to Defend Title
In the Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket, 2011Champion Melissa Rollison of Australia – now racing under her married name of Melissa Hauschildt – has registered to return to defend her title.
She’s set to face strong challenges from a field that will include Vodickova and Granger, who finished third and eighth respectively last year.
Hauschildt, the Ironman 70.3 2011 World Champion, said: “I can’t wait to come back to Laguna Phuket to defend my title – it has the most unique course, amazing location and friendliest crew I’ve come across in my triathlon career.
“The swim starts in the beautiful ocean and finishes in a lagoon with a small run in between; the steep hills and descents make for a very interesting bike course on the roads of Phuket; and the run course never has a dull moment, weaving through the golf course, along the beach, and around the wedding chapel. It’s definitely a must-do race!”
High Calibre Men’s Fields Expected
LPT and the Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket are once again set to see high-calibre fields of elite men’s pros taking on their tropical challenges.
American Ironman Chris Lieto, reputed to be the fastest triathlon cyclist in the world, has confirmed to race both LPT and Ironman 70.3. Lieto has recorded three top 10 finishes in the Ironman World Championships, with second place in 2009.
Confirmations are awaited from more big names, such as last year’s Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket Champion, two-time 70.3 World Champion Michael Raelert of Germany.
And organisers are also waiting to hear confirmation from Australian Craig Alexander – 2011Ironman World Champion, 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Champion and arguably the biggest name in international triathlon.