There are plenty of reasons to be interested in IRONMAN 70.3 Lanzarote next Saturday, and the presence of Jess Learmonth adds another to the mix.
Learmonth of course will again be a mainstay of the short-course scene in 2022, following on from her Olympic Mixed Relay gold in Tokyo and a stellar Super League Triathlon season in 2021.
Now though the Leeds star will turn her hand to middle-distance racing when she takes part in what should be a highly competitive race this coming weekend.
Jess will take part on a road bike (with aero), so no TT – that however did not stop a certain Taylor Knibb tearing it up when she hit middle distances last summer. It will be fascinating to see how Learmonth fares against what could be a terrific field.
Haug heads stellar field
With less than two months now to the delayed 2021 IRONMAN Championship in St George (Saturday May 7), the opportunities for prep races mean deep fields at this early stage of the year. And Lanzarote is shaping up to follow that trend.
The start list is headed by the (still) reigning IRONMAN World Champion Anne Haug, who is readying for the defence of a title she won in Kona in 2019. Britain’s Kat Matthews meanwhile will also take in the race to sharpen up for St George.
Another British star on the start list is Lucy Buckingham (nee Hall), who enjoyed a terrific second half of 2021, culminating in a fine second behind Jackie Hering at CLASH Daytona.
We could have another athlete from that 2021 Daytona podium on Saturday in the shape of France’s Marjolaine Pierre, who produced a blistering run to claim third.
McNamee set for 2022 debut
There is plenty of interest in the men’s race too, with Britain’s David McNamee – third in Kona in both 2017 and 2018 – set for his seasonal debut ahead of St George.
Also in the field are two more intriguing St George qualifiers in the shape of New Zealand’s Kyle Smith and the rapidly-improving Frenchman Leon Chevalier.
British pair James Teagle and Eliot Smales are also on the start list, along with France’s Clement Mignon and Belgium’s Bart Aernouts.