Exciting Mens Pro Race Expected At 70.3 Taupo

Friday 08 December 2023

The 2023 IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo men’s professional race is set to be hotly contested this Saturday, 9 December, as a strong line up of triathletes from around the world compete for the title.

New Zealand is well represented in the men’s race, with 2019 IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo champion Kyle Smith back on the start line, and two-time IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo champion Braden Currie, 2022 IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand champion Jack Moody, and 2023 IRONMAN New Zealand champion Mike Phillips all vying for top spot on home soil.

They will no doubt be pushed all way by Spanish star Javier Gomez, an Olympic silver medallist and two-time IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion, who is on the comeback trail after 18 months out through injury.

A last-minute decision to enter and lack of the usual dialled in preparation won’t stop Wanaka-based Currie from giving this race his all as he aims to secure his qualifying spot for the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo in just over 12 months’ time.

There are two slots available in the men’s professional race, and with Smith, Phillips and Gomez having already claimed their World Championship slots, Currie will be hoping to make one his in Taupo.

“Prep has definitely not been run of the mill, or standard. I wasn’t planning on racing in Taupo but things changed and I decided to race, with the main objective being to get an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slot for next year,” said Currie. “The body is feeling good and I’m healthy, so I’m just hoping with a bit of luck I can pull off a reasonable race and get that qualifying slot and then the rest is up in the air, so you never know.

“It seems like it’s got a great field so that was definitely one of the exciting parts of being able to race, having Javier Gomez on the start line, Kyle is back for summer, Mike Phillips, Jack Moody, should be a really good race.”

Despite spending much of the past year on the sidelines through injury, Javier Gomez has already proved that class is permanent on his return to racing, winning three out of three races so far – with his victory at last month’s IRONMAN 70.3 Mossel Bay in South Africa earning him his 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slot.

“I had a pretty rough year, dealing with an injury during the first part of it. So I feel that I’m ready to compete now. I did a few races in Spain, then an IRONMAN 70.3 in South Africa and now Taupo. It just fitted my calendar and it’s an iconic race that I always wanted to do,” said Gomez.

Gomez is soley focused on seeing out 2023 in the strongest way possible before turning his attention to 2024 race planning.

“My goal when I toe the line is always to win. I just try to race to the best of my ability to make that happen. But of course I am realistic and know it’s not easy. Especially in races like this, with such a strong field. I know well the top New Zealand athletes and I have a lot of respect for them. They are not only the best athletes in New Zealand but some of them are also some of the best in the world. So it’s definitely going to be a great battle,” said Gomez.

Since winning IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo in his hometown in 2019, Kyle Smith has spent much of the past few years honing his craft in Europe.

“I'm super excited about being back racing in my hometown,” said Smith. “It's a super early start to the season for me but I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to race when I'm here. I only came off the off season five weeks ago after my Achilles injury, but I think training has gone as good as it possibly could have in those five weeks so I’m excited to see how that translates onto the racecourse on Saturday. 

While Smith is the reigning IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo champion, Aucklander Jack Moody scored the most recent IRONMAN 70.3 win in Taupo after the 2022 IRONMAN New Zealand and IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand were postponed to December of last year.

That win was Moody’s first and only IRONMAN 70.3 win to date, a victory he is hoping he can repeat this Saturday.

“Winning IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand last year was a dream come true,” said Moody. “It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win and to finally make it happen in the fashion I did was pretty special and a memory I will certainly hold on to. I’m trying to act like it doesn’t add any pressure and mentally it doesn’t feel like any pressure just yet, more motivation for this year to prove it doesn’t have to be a one off.

“It’s been a massive driver for me after having a good race in Lahti this year, knowing that a bit more experience could land me very much at the pointy end of one of these big championship races. The first objective will be to qualify for the race and then it will be a case of creating a season with everything building to December next year to give a home World Champs my best shot.”

MALE PRO:
 1 – Jack Moody (New Zealand)
 2 – Mike Phillips (New Zealand)
 3 – Simon Cochrane (New Zealand)
 4 – Javier Gomez (Spain)
 5 – Braden Currie (New Zealand)
 6 – Kyle Smith (New Zealand)
 7 – Nicholas Free (Australia)
 8 – Kieran Storch (Australia)
 9 – Mitch Kibby (Australia)
 10 – Calvin Amos (Australia)
 11 – Valentino Agnelli (Argentina)
 12 – Joe Begbie (Australia)
 14 – Brett Clifford (New Zealand)
 15 – Ben Hamilton (New Zealand)
 16 – Scott Harpham (New Zealand)
 18 – Jayden Kuijpers (New Zealand)
 19 – Damien McMahon (Australia)
 20 – Kurt McDonald (Australia)
 21 – Daniel McDonnell (Australia)
 22 – Josiah Ney (Canada)
 23 – Jarrod Osborne (Australia)
 24 – Sam Osborne (New Zealand)
 25 – Michael Tong (New Zealand)

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