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While the Ironman 70.3 North American Championships start list isn’t yet available on Ironman’s website, it’s been getting some serious attention on social media after Sebastian Kienle tweeted out a preliminary excel sheet version of it on Thursday. Always a stacked race, there’s no doubt based on this list that this year’s St. George race will be exciting from start to finish. We’re going to see some new big names tackling the half distance, a new champion on the men’s side and possibly a new women’s champion as well. Here are the highlights of what we can expect at the May 6th race:

Sanders absent

The most notable absence on the start list this year is Lionel Sanders, who took the win last year in a remarkable race that saw him overcome a serious deficit and overtake race favourite, Kienle, on the gruelling St. George bike course. Sanders’ name isn’t on the preliminary entry list that Kienle tweeted yesterday, indicating he’s sitting out of this year’s race after already accumulating three 70.3 victories in 2017 so far.

Wurtele and Lawrence showdown

Last year’s winner Heather Wurtele is without a doubt one of the strongest women on the half distance scene right now, but she’s got a new rival in 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion and this year’s Oceanside winner, 27-year-old Holly Lawrence. The British athlete has been making a huge name for herself since her world title and multiple podiums last year, and after she took second in last year’s race to Wurtele, we expect to see an exciting showdown between the two this year, as well. Lawrence was able to overtake Wurtele on the bike in Oceanside and has proven she has the speed on the run, likely from her ITU days, to kick it into high gear on the final leg of the race when it counts the most.

Olympian takeover

With Rio behind us, we’re beginning to see several ITU stars stepping up to the half distance this year in pursuit of a new challenge. The most notable one to do so at this year’s Ironman 70.3 North American champs is Alistair Brownlee, who will officially make his half distance debut on April 22nd at Challenge Gran Canaria. Could we see Brownlee take the regional title in only his second crack at the distance?

USA’s Ben Kanute is another Rio Olympian trying out the half distance this year and already with some success. Kanute took third at Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico last month. He is still racing on the ITU circuit and will race at WTS Gold Coast this weekend.

There’s still time for changes to be made to this start list — check back on our website during race week for our full race preview, pre-race interviews and more.