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Leanda Cave, at her performance peak for Phuket's double tri week

Phuket Races Draw World's Best Triathletes

Saturday, October 27, 2012
PHUKET: Leanda Cave of Britain, the newly-crowned 2012 Ironman and Ironman 70.3 triathlon double World Champion, will head a stellar line-up of elite talent at the Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket on December 2.

Cave achieved her feat at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas on September 9, followed by the full Ironman World Championship on October 13 in Kona, Hawaii.

She is the first woman and only the second triathlete to win both World Championship titles in the same year, after Craig Alexander of Australia took the two titles in the men's field of 2011.

Cave's appearance at Laguna Phuket will be just her third race after her Kona triumph. She is due to compete in the Miami Ironman 70.3 on October 28 and Ironman Arizona on November 18.

Debbie Dionysius, Assistant Vice President of Destination Marketing, Laguna Phuket, said: ''We look forward to welcoming this superb double World Champion to our Phuket event.

''She signed up for our Ironman 70.3 just hours after becoming 70.3 World Champion in Las Vegas and told us how excited she was about coming to Laguna Phuket again.

''We were absolutely thrilled when she won the full Ironman World Championship in Kona - it's a fantastic coup for us to attract to Phuket the first-ever current women's double World Champion.''

Cave's appearance at Laguna Phuket sets up a fascinating encounter with 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Champion and defending Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket Champion Melissa Hauschildt of Australia, who came fourth behind Cave in Las Vegas and will be eager not to lose another title to her.

Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket, the third edition of this triathlon, is preceded on November 25 by the nineteenth edition of the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, the legendary triathlon which Cave raced in 2006 when she finished second behind Samantha McGlone of Canada.

Both the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket attract a field of one thousand athletes from around the world and are linked by a Tri-Fest of training and social activities at Laguna Phuket during the week between the two Sunday races.

With some athletes opting to take on the challenge of competing in both events, there are a number of intriguing Phuket duels in store, one of the most prominent between Laguna veteran Belinda Granger of Australia and Czech Olympian Radka Vodickova who are both vying to beome the Laguna Phuket Triathlon's first-ever women's triple champion as well as lining up against each other again a week later in the 70.3.

Italian Massimo Cigana, Phuket's first-ever triple champion in the men's field last year, returns to defend his title in a bid to be a four-time champion.

He will face stiff opposition from elite pros such as American Chris Lieto - an Ironman champion renowned as the fastest cyclist in triathlon - who is keen to make up for his Phuket debut last year when he was forced to retire from the 70.3 after crashing on the bike course.

Lieto is also in Phuket to support Laguna's community fund-raising with his More Than Sport charity, which will see international athletes join the effort to raise two million baht for the resort's new ''Fully Booked!'' mobile learning centre and library project for rural schools near Phuket.

The annual triathlon carnival at Laguna Phuket also involves the local community, with hundreds of local volunteers involved, schoolchildren lining the course routes to cheer on the athletes, and support from local Phuket government and police.

Both events provide a tourism showcase for Phuket and Thailand, generating worldwide publicity and comment.

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