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Auckland 70.3 Bevan Docherty 4th

Auckland 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship 2014

Any excuse to come home to NZ and race is a good one, however this race is one Kiwis can be truly proud of. To host an event of this magnitude in a city like Auckland is a logistical nightmare, however it is totally worth the effort.

Leading into this race my training and preparation had been on target, I decided to head over a little earlier as the flu was starting to knock a few people down in the US and I just couldn't afford to get sick. It was a great move, although I have to admit that the training in Auckland and certainly the traffic hasn't improved and has reassured me that basing myself in Santa Cruz was a great idea.

Another thing I don't miss is the Auckland weather, however the gods were on our side and we had stunning weather come race day! These early morning starts never get any easier, the consolation of a 6.15 start was no wind and we were going to miss the heat of the day!

With perfect race conditions we were off for the 1.9km wetsuit swim, and I easily settled into a comfortable pace and positioned well in about 5th. Unfortunately the one person I was following dropped off midway through the swim, generally if I was in this situation a short course race I would put some effort into bridging the gap, however in these longer races you have to be patient, back yourself and have confidence you're going to catch up on the bike.

We exited about 20 seconds down on the leaders, however as anticipated I bridged up within 5km and one large group of around 12 athletes formed. The WTC are seriously going to have to look at extending the drafting zone if they want to prevent these large groups on the bike. To everyones credit they were sticking to the rules, however there is a significant advantage with a 10m draft zone – I vote for 20m. That said the bike course still takes its toll on the weaker cyclists.

I have to say I didn't get too much of a chance to appreciate the view going over the Harbour Bridge, however along the waterfront a few times I spied Rangitoto across the water and it brought back some great memories.

I felt pretty strong out there as was able to cover any gap or break, however I could tell this was the first race of the season as my legs had no desire to attack or make a move. By the end of the bike only one guy Andrew Yoda from Amnerica had broken away and he wasn't too much of a concern for me. Our group of about 10 contained some of the pre-race favourites like Frodeno, and Bozzone, but also some big hitters were missing like Alexander!

Onto the run and all I can say is I felt strong, but just had no speed! All I could do was watch Fordeno run away and hope he was going to hit the wall. I settled into a solid rhythm with Bozzone as we knew there would be some solid runners chasing us down! By the halfway point Frodo had already put a minute into us, as we were joined by Richie Cunningham who was charging! I was comfortable with the pace, but just couldn't match any surges and dropped off with about 5km to go. In the end I finished 4th only 20 seconds from 2nd and 10 from third.

To be honest I was a little disappointed with the result, I had a very strong race, but I'm well off where I know I can be. I might have been only 10 seconds off the podium but Frodo was certainly a level above all of us; somewhere I know I can be when I'm on form. I do however have to keep in mind that it's a very long season until Kona in October – the sport is about leaking at the right time and having the confidence that I'm tracking well.

Next up for me is Panama 70.3 in just over 3 weeks time, so plenty of time to take it up to another level!

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