Lucky strikes for top pair

By Kelly Exelby


Bryan Rhodes rates it as a lucky race, while Amanda Westwood is fast falling for the course after the 20th Bayfair Triathlon yesterday.
Taupo's Rhodes took out his fourth win in the sprint event in Pilot Bay, while Rotorua's Westwood backed up her win in the Tinman earlier in the season on the same course, overhauling Whakatane's Marina Fowell on the run.
Rhodes, the 34-year-old three-time Ironman champion, emerged first out of the water, led off the bike and held off young Auckland triathlete James Upton to win by 38secs, finishing in 55:42.
"Every year I win, I have a really good year, which is why I keep coming back. It sets my year up well," Rhodes said.
"I liked the head-wind on the way out on the bike because it just gave me that edge over James. I needed to put something on him on the bike because when the young guys get a sniff of it, they come after you."
Rhodes didn't finish this year's Port of Tauranga Half Ironman after straining a calf muscle, but has targeted Ironman Arizona in five weeks as his first big event of the year.
His previous Bayfair wins came in 2000, 2002 and 2005, making him the second-most successful racer in the event's history, behind remarkable local Paul de Rijk.
De Rijk, who was second in 1988 and has won seven titles in the interim, has completed 13 of the 20 Bayfair events and recorded yet another top-10 finish yesterday, ending seventh in 59:28.
Fowell is now the best bridesmaid in the women's race, with three second-placings and a third. She also finished second to Westwood in the Tinman and knew her lead off the bike wasn't going to last.
"I knew she was going to catch me because she is the stronger runner, so I went out as hard as I could to make it as hard as possible for her," Fowell said.

"I gave it all to the end but she cruised past me."
Westwood, meanwhile, used the event as her final preparation for the upcoming Ironman Australia. Husband Paul completed Ironman New Zealand last week, and his wife will make her debut at the distance in Port Macquarie after finishing fourth in the Tauranga half.
"We've got a pact that if one of us is doing a long race, the other has to be supporting _ we'd kill each other if we both tried to do Ironman together!" Westwood said.
In yesterday's race, she bided her time on the bike and struck after 4km of the run.
"The bike felt good and the run was just a case of chasing Marina down.
"She was quite a long way ahead and I thought `if she beats me, she beats me' but all of a sudden she was there and I sat behind her for a while before going past."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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