Caroline Steffen Looks To Defend At Ironman Melbourne

Last year’s Ironman Melbourne winner Caroline Steffen (SUI) will face tough competition from a deep field of athletes.

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Last year’s Ironman Melbourne winner Caroline Steffen (SUI) is the favorite heading into the second running of the Asia-Pacific Championship race, but she will face tough competition from a deep field of athletes looking for valuable Kona Pro Ranking (KPR) points.

Steffen led nearly the whole race one year ago and took the win by a large margin over Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce and Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae.

Joyce has chosen to race Ironman Texas instead this year, and Carfrae validated her Kona start at Ironman Florida last November, so neither of them will compete in Melbourne. Despite these two missing from the start list, there will be a couple of other powerhouse names to give Steffen some solid competition.

The United States’ Meredith Kessler and New Zealand’s Gina Crawford are fresh off of strong performances at Ironman Zealand three weeks ago (Kessler finished first, Crawford second), and will likely be racing on tired legs.

Australia’s Nikki Butterfield also raced recently at Abu Dhabi, but pulled out of the race with cramping on the bike and will be looking for a strong performance. Also a bit of an unknown at this distance is Canada’s Angela Naeth. Naeth has had success at 70.3s and this will be her first attempt at Ironman.

Rounding out the list of contenders are six-time Ironman world champion Natascha Badmann (SUI), Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) and Tenille Hoogland (CAN).

The winner will take home 4,000 KPR points toward Ironman World Championship qualification and $25,000.

PHOTOS: 2012 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship

See the complete women’s start list below:

50 Caroline Steffen
51 Meredith Kessler
53 Gina Crawford
54 Britta Martin
55 Carrie Lester
56 Nikki Butterfield
57 Natscha Badmann
58 Bree Wee
59 Rebecca Hoschke
60 Lisa Marangon
61 Corinne Abraham
62 Anna Cleaver
63 Monica Dalidowicz
64 Elly Franks
65 Dede Griesbauer
66 Kristy Hallett
67 Tamsyn Hayes
68 Tenille Hoogland
69 Angela Naeth
70 Nina Pekerman
71 Sarah Piampiano
72 Anna Ross
73 Linda Schuecker
74 Jodie Scott
75 Amanda Stevens
76 Keiko Tanaka
77 Yvonne Van Vlerken
78 Dana Wagner
79 Charisa Wernick

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