The 2008 world champion Terenzo Bozzone will race in next month's inaugural Ironman 70.3 Auckland triathlon.
Bozzone, 27, joins a world-class line-up for the race which doubles as the official Asia Pacific Championships, one of the three major titles carrying crucial qualifying points for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Bozzone said the lure of competing in his home city and on the waterfront was the major factor in his decision to race.
"I saw how successful the ITU worlds were on the waterfront and it will be great to race at home, something I don't get to do very often in my career," he said.
"To be part of the first triathlon to ride over the Harbour Bridge and to be running along the waterfront where Ironman used to race years ago will be fantastic.
"It is a prestigious title I would like to win and also get some very good qualifying points in place for the World Championships later next year."
Bozzone has struggled for almost two years after the first serious injury of his career - an Achilles problem - but is in outstanding form.
"I couldn't get out of my own way and tried to run through the pain from the Achilles injury.
"Finally, I had the surgery and expected this miraculous comeback where I would start winning races left, right and centre," he said. "But life is not a movie. Things are a lot harder than that. However, now I am working my way back."
Bozzone has picked up four Ironman 70.3 victories in the last two months in Brazil, Miami, Taiwan and Shepparton in Australia and finished a close second in Ireland in his final five races of the season.
"I'm really excited. I've been struggling all year to find that form. My coach and I decided I needed to work on my running strength and I got down into a bunch of training and got back to my old ways of doing heaps of training and it seems to have worked."
Ports of Auckland was confirmed as a major sponsor for the January 20 event. It features a 1.9km swim from the Maritime Museum to the Viaduct Harbour, 90km cycle - including a traverse of the Auckland Harbour Bridge - and a two-lap, 21.1km run along the waterfront.
"[We] strongly believe we have a role to play in supporting events that will help bring new money and visitors to our city and particularly to our waterfront, which we share with the community," said Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson.
The men's field includes 10-time Ironman New Zealand champion Cameron Brownand two-time Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty, ranked third in the world at this distance.
Other outstanding athletes from across the Tasman include Australian champion Tim Berkel, Joe Gambles, Paul Ambrose, Luke Bell and Ironman New Zealand runner-up Tim Reed.
What: Ironman 70.3 Auckland
Where: Auckland waterfront
When: January 20, 2013