The growing rivalry between two of the sport’s most promising stars is set to continue during this year’s 2011/2012 IronWoman Series with Courtney Hancock crossing the line just ahead of Liz Pluimers during Sunday’s round one race at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.
After both athletes had a slow start to the board leg, it wasn’t long before last year’s top two finishers edged ahead of the field.
Pluimers gained an early advantage after a strong first run leg, but Hancock powered back into contention in the swim getting hold of a handy wave to take her from midfield up to the leaders.
The two then shared the lead over the final swim, run and ski legs before Hancock capitalised on a slight mistake from Pluimers to race away for the victory. Hancock said it was the perfect start season adding it was important she began well in the early races.
“I really wanted to focus on this round and to have a good start so I can’t ask anything more after today,” Hancock said.
“I think it’s even more important particularly with the point score this year with 25 for first and 22 for second, so there’s a bit of a gap and a bit more to play for.
“I had a bit of a bad start, but going through the warm up I sat down and really read the surf and that definitely helped as I was able to use that in the swim.”
Hancock also credited the presence of Pluimers alongside her; saying it was a major positive for the series.
“Liz and I have been really close for the last twelve months and today was another example. I think it is very good for the sport because it produces close races and that is what the fans want,” she said.
“I’ve always been watching Shannon (Eckstein) and Zane (Holmes) and they have been so close for many years, so to have something where not just Liz and I, but all the girls are racing closely is very exciting.”
For Pluimers it was a similarly impressive start, with the 25-year-old ecstatic with her first up performance.
“I actually felt really, really good,” Pluimers said.
“We we’re together going around the flags for the last ski leg, but unfortunately I rolled and that was the difference in the end.
“That’s surf and that type of stuff happens so it doesn’t matter. We’ve got a great rivalry going so this close racing is great for the fans and hopefully I can get her next time.”
Kristyl Smith defied concerns that the long run legs of the Enduro race would put her at a disadvantage, fighting her way to a credible third place finish.
Smith, along with Hayley Bateup, Brodie Moir and youngster Jordan Mercer led the field in the early stages of the race, before the superior speed of Hancock and Pluimers took over.
The IronWoman Series now heads to Portsea in Victoria, where Amy Nurthen won last year.
Results IronWoman Series, Round 1, Surfers Paradise
1 C Hancock 2 L Pluimers 3 K Smith 4 B Moir 5 H Bateup 6 R Creedy 7 J Mercer 8 H Brown 9 K Perkins 10 D Allen 11 T Devine 12 C Falzon 13 T Coleman 14 A Bennett 15 K Holmes 16 T Jenkins 17 B Hancock 18 A Nurthen 19 A Richardson 20 N Chapman