UPDATE: Preview Ironman Brazil Jordan Blanco May 27, 2015 Race Previews UPDATE: Gross won’t defend title – will her 8:56:35 course record be in danger? This year’s edition of Ironman Brazil carries the title of Ironman Latin American Championships and will bestow automatic qualification to the Ironman World Championships in Kona to the winner of the race. With the Championship banner and a $150,000 prize purse, Brazil has drawn a larger and deeper women’s field vying to be crowned Ironman Brazil Champion than in past years. Text by Jordan Blanco | Lead Image by Korupt Vision Ironman Brazil Last year’s Champion, Canadian Sara Gross, returns to defend her title. Her sub-9 hour performance in Florianopolis last year marked Gross’ first ever win at the Iron distance and was considered a breakout performance at the time. She confirmed the victory was no fluke by winning Ironman Mont Tremblant and the title of Ironman North American Champion later in the year. Gross will be a determined competitor on the start line, seeking her second Regional Championship win and the golden ticket to Kona. UPDATE: Unfortunately, Gross won’t be heading to Brazil. American Amanda Stevens is another former winner here in Florianopolis, having taken the women’s title in 2013, just a few minutes ahead of Gross. Stevens is known for being one of the sport’s best swimmers along with strong bike abilities so expect to see her up front early in the race. Another candidate for triathlon’s best long distance swimmer is Haley Chura. The Atlanta GA based athlete is no stranger to Brazil having earned her first Ironman title in Fortaleza just six months ago. Chura has also previously competed at Ironman Brazil; she was first out of the water in 2013 and went on to finish fifth in that race. With a couple more years experience under her belt since that race, expect to see Chura battling for a podium placing. Two other Americans that are likely to be near the pointy end of the race are Ashley Clifford and Liz Lyles. Both have been in winning form so far in 2015. Clifford recently took out the win at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga and Lyles beat out defending Champion Heather Jackson in a sprint for the finish at the Wildflower long course triathlon. While both are chasing Kona points, having been the top American finisher in seventh place at Ironman Hawaii last year, Lyles probably just needs to finish to book her return trip to the Big Island. European interest in the race comes in the form of Germans Anja Beranek and Mareen Hufe, Beranek recently showcased a superior bike leg to take the win at Ironman 70.3 St Polten over a fast finishing Nicola Spirig Hug – a great tune up for her first full of the 2015 season. Hufe is also on the points trail having narrowly missed qualifying for Kona in 2014, she placed second at Ironman Western Australia last December with the fastest bike split on the day. Two other Europeans looking to mix things up at the front of the field are Sweden’s Asa Lundstrom and Belgium’s Tine Deckers. Lundstrom raced and placed fourth at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship race in Melbourne so a podium placing here could assure her of a Kona slot. Deckers kicked off her 2015 season with back-to-back 70.3 races in Spain. She finished fourth at both Ironman 70.3 Barcelona and Ironman 70.3 Mallorca. Brazilian athlete Ariane Monticeli will be one of the hometown favorites and knows the Ironman Brazil course well, having raced here for the past three years. Monticeli’ best performance here is a third place and podium spot in 2014. She also finished second to Chura at last November’s debut Ironman race in Fortaleza. Ironman Brazil 2015 Start List BIB FIRST LAST COUNTRY 51 SARA GROSS CAN 52 AMANDA STEVENS USA 53 HALEY CHURA USA 54 ARIANE MONTICELI SILVEIRA BRA 58 METTE PETTERSEN MOE NOR 59 TINE DECKERS BEL 60 LUCIE ZELENKOVA CZE 61 ASTRID GANZOW DEU 62 LAURA BARRENA ARG 64 ANJA BERANEK DEU 65 ELIZABETH LYLES USA 66 LAUREL WASSNER USA 67 MARIANA BORGES DE ANDRADE BRA 68 DIANA RIESLER DEU 70 ASHLEY CLIFFORD USA 71 ASA LUNDSTROM SWE 72 KAREN THIBODEAU CAN 74 ANA BORBA BRA 76 MAREEN HUFE DEU 77 EIMEAR MARIA MULLAN IRL Follow Jordan on twitter here Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName Email Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.