June 23, 2018, 5:58 am
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Three-way battle looms in Xterra Albay

AUSSIES Penny Slater and Leela Hancox and Kristy Jennings of New Zealand gear up for another fierce showdown when they slug it out in the centerpiece women’s pro division of the XTerra Off-Road Triathlon this Sunday in Albay, Legazpi City.

The troika saw action in XTerra Danao ruled by absentee Carina Wasle last April, with Slater finishing second and Hancox and Jennings placing fourth and fifth, respectively. A down-to-the-wire battle looms in the coming event with a different kind of challenge awaiting the elite field in Albay, particularly in the mountain biking and trail running stages.

Slater remained confident of her chances, particularly in the opening 1.5K swim leg where she edged Wasle in Danao. Hancox and Jennings hope to strike in the 28K bike leg and the closing 8K run of the event making its return to Albay after a one-year break.

Slater switched from hockey to off-road triathlon in 2015 and recovered from a car accident to qualify for the ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships in 2016. She placed third in the Amateur Female ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships and topped the Nationals Champions Elite – ITU Cross Triathlon last year.

Hancox has achieved a world ranking of No. 14 after the ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships. She also placed seventh in Xterra Asia-Pacific Tour last year and is currently ranked second in the sport in Australia.

Jennings finished second in last year’s Penticton ITU Cross Triathlon world tilt, with the veteran campaigner also tuning up for next month’s Fyn ITU cross triathlon world tile in Denmark.

Bradley Weiss looms as the man to beat in the men’s side of the event presented by the City of Legaspi and produced by Sunrise Events, Inc. with the South African going for a sweep of this year’s XTerra series after topping the Danao stop.

A slew of talented athletes are out to foil his bid, including New Zealand’s Sam Osborne, who placed second in Danao, third placer Kieran McPherson, also of New Zealand, 2016 XTerra Asia-Pacific titlist Ben Allen of Australia, Japanese Takahiro Ogasawara, the 2016 XTerra Saipan winner, Akihiro Maeda, also of Japan, Kiwis Alex Roberts and Olly Shaw and local bet Joseph Miller.

Also on tap in the event, held as part of SEI’s decade of triathlon staging, are the duathlon (2km run-14km bike-4km run) and the lite XTERRA (750km swim-14km bike-4km run).
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