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New Zealand's Terenzo Bozzone smashes course record to win Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — A broken wrist didn't stop New Zealander Terenzo Bozzone from smashing a course record and winning Saturday's Ironman World Championship 70.3.

"The conditions were perfect," said Bozzone, 23, who narrowly missed making his country's Olympic team this year. "Everything went just right."

Bozzone, who has won three other 70.3 events this year, fell off his bike in Hawaii four weeks ago and broke his right wrist.

"I just took the splint off," he said. "I felt it a little bit in the swim, but I guess the pain kept me from feeling the rest of my body hurting."

Bozzone's time of 3 hours, 40 minutes, 10 seconds for the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run was more than two minutes faster than Andy Potts' winning time at last year's world championships, 3:42:33.

Potts, a 31-year-old from Colorado who tried to defend his title, was still recovering from last month's Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, which is double the distance of the Clearwater event.

Potts, seventh in Hawaii, was first out of the water Saturday, setting a course record of 21 minutes, 44 seconds for the swim leg, but he faded as the morning dragged on. "I'm toast," he said after finishing sixth.

Bozzone was part of a tight group hot on Potts' heels as he exited the 70-degree water just south of Clearwater's Pier 60. The water was flat, ideal for a long swim. But the rising sun caused a slight problem for the leaders as they swam due east on the last leg.

"It was hard to see," said Joanna Zeiger, the women's winner in 4:02:49, also a course record. "You could see some people were going offcourse."

Potts lost his lead around Mile 17 of the bike ride, and over the next half-hour, the lead changed hands several times.

Several of the top pros entered the transition area together. Bozzone got out first on the run course, which took the triathletes over the Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge four times.

"On the second half of the run, I began to suspect that I might have put too much into the bike," Bozzone said. "I was really starting to feel it."

German Andreas Raelert knew he was several minutes behind Bozzone when he got off the bike, so he decided to pour everything he had into the run.

"I had one chance," said the 32-year-old from Hamburg. "It was all or nothing."

Raelert, who won the Ironman 70.3 in Monaco in September, made up nearly two minutes on the run, but that wasn't enough to catch Bozzone. He finished second, 32 seconds behind.

"I felt really strong," Raelert said. "But that last time across the bridge took it out of me."

Australian Richie Cunningham finished 1 minute, 5 seconds behind Raelert for third place.

"Perfect conditions … a very fast race," said the 35-year-old, who lives in the United States. "There were some points on the bike where we were just red lining. … All I could do was just hang on."

Zeiger finished just under five minutes faster than Mirinda Carfrae's winning time from 2007, 4:07:25.

"I was riding in with a group of really fast cyclists," said the 38-year-old from Colorado. "I knew I had to just stay with them and then push it on the run. But that last hill was brutal."

Despite prerace publicity, some motorists seemed caught offguard by the event and were forced into long waits as they tried to cross key streets along the route.

At 9:30 a.m., a line of traffic on State Road 580 stretched east for one-third of a mile from the corner with McMullen-Booth Road. A Clearwater motorcycle officer was involved in a minor accident with another vehicle at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and S Arcturas Avenue.

Times staff writer Curtis Krueger contributed to this report.

New Zealand's Terenzo Bozzone smashes course record to win Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater 11/08/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2008 8:07pm]
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