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Sub-8 Bozzone takes IRONMAN New Zealand ahead of Joe Skipper

Fast racing at the 34th IRONMAN New Zealand sees course records, incredible stats and a first Taupo title for Terenzo Bozzone

Chief Correspondent
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Cameron Brown breaks his course record aged 45 – and finishes third!

A record breaking day at the 34th IRONMAN New Zealand in Taupo

[CLICK HERE FOR THE PRO WOMEN’S REPORT FROM TAUPO]

It’s the longest standing IRONMAN event outside of the IRONMAN World Championship, the 2018 edition of IRONMAN New Zealand proved to be a record-breaking classic. I said in our preview of Joe Skipper:

His best performances have come over the longer format and he typically responds well to having had a warm-up race too. With course knowledge from two years ago and having been based in New Zealand for the best part of a month now, he will expect a much improved result this week – and will likely get it too.

Well, that certainly proved to be correct…

The Race

Home athlete Dylan McNeice produced his typical swim masterclass, building an early lead of over three minutes with a rapid 45:54 through the 3.8km swim. A group of seven athletes followed, including Mike Phillips, defending champion Braden Currie, Terenzo Bozzone, Guy Crawford, Callum Millward, Jan Van Berkel, Simon Cochrane and Leigh Stabryla.

The 12-time winner and ‘King of Taupo’, Cameron Brown was 2:30 down on that main pack – and a great swim from Joe Skipper meant he was just a few steps behind the Kiwi legend, who beat him to the top step of the podium here two years ago. Well in the mix after his weakest discipline (he was almost five minutes down on Brown at the same point in 2016), he would have been a in great spirits starting the bike.

it wasn’t a great day for Braden Currie. In fine form two weeks ago at Challenge Wanaka, he’d been ill coming into the race but soon found once the pace was on that he wasn’t recovered and had to make the tough decision to withdraw.

The pace was certainly on through the ride, and as the athletes entered the second half of the ride in favourable wind conditions, there was a leading group of four: Bozzone, Phillips, Skipper and Lachlan Kerin. Kerin was the first to drop from the pace being set and Phillips (a Sub-8 finisher at IRONMAN Barcelona last year), was next. That left two, and on arrival at T2 it was a quality duo of Terenzo Bozzone and Joe Skipper leading the way.

Skipper’s 4:19:14 was a new bike course record (NOTE to bike companies – Joe currently does NOT have a bike sponsor…). Phillips lost 5:15 over the final quarter of the race to arrive third, while the clock was just passing nine minutes of deficit when Simon Cochrane (NZL), McNiece, Van Berkel, Brown, Crawford and Millward arrived covering positions 4th-9th. What did 45 year old Cameron Brown have left at ‘his’ race? Quite a lot…

Bozzone took the lead from the start of the marathon, gradually pulling away from Skipper – both were running strongly. With a third of the run complete, Bozzone was 2:17 up on Skipper, with Phillips still holding third, now eight minutes down on the pace-setting Terenzo. Brown was the leading the way from his T2 group – but the margin to Bozzone had barely moved. Another lap down and Bozzone was still running strong, Brown was still nine minutes back (but now up to third), but he was now only 3:20 back on the Brit. 14km to go, it was still all to play for.

It would prove to be a perfect day for Terenzo Bozzone. the 8:07:58 course record of Brown from 2016 was smashed – and on a course hardly renowned for speed, Bozzone managed to produce his second Sub-8 iron-distance finish, crossing the line in 7:59:57. After a decade of efforts at this race, what a way to win this race.

The battle was on for second place now. Skipper was running at sub 2:50 marathon pace – but still being caught by the legend Cameron Brown! With 5km to go, Brown had closed to almost two minutes, but Skipper always has that ability to suffer. Suffer he did – but it was enough. He closed with a 2:49:47 marathon and a finish time of 8:05:33, well inside he old course record.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf4BvTqhMUI/

Brown (as if you need to prove it in your 21st attempt at the same race!), proved his class once again. Forget his age, Brown is the ultimate professional and once again set the fastest run split (2:41:56) – third place, and a 20th consecutive IRONMAN New Zealand podium. Quite incredible.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bf25xm2BvWi/

IRONMAN New Zealand – Saturday 3rd March 2018
3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

PRO MEN

1st – Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) – 7:59:57
2nd – Joe Skipper (GBR) – 8:05:33
3rd – Cameron Brown (NZL) – 8:07:10
4th – Jan Van Berkel (SUI) – 8:10:28
5th – Mike Phillips (NZL) – 8:13:48
6th – Nathan Shearer (AUS) – 8:18:27
7th – Simon Cochrane (NZL) – 8:21:54
8th – Callum Millward (NZL) – 8:32:39
9th – Sam Long (USA) – 8:40:43
10th – Guy Crawford (NZL) – 8:48:06

[CLICK HERE FOR THE PRO WOMEN’S REPORT FROM TAUPO]

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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