Bevan Docherty has been pipped at the Ironman 70.3 in Auckland this morning by unknown Australian Christian Kemp.
Annabel Luxton completed the Aussie double by winning the women's event.
Kemp ran away from Docherty 5km out from the finish to win the biggest race of his career in a time of 3:56:02. The USA-based Docherty, a double Olympic medallist, hung on to finish second ahead of compatriot Clark Ellice from Taranaki.
"This is the biggest win of my life and I'm just really, really happy and stoked with it," said the 32 year old.
"I've gone under the radar in most races I go into at the moment and you have a good day here and there and obviously I had one of them today. I'm not sure that I'll be right up with the top guys yet but I certainly won't be flying under the radar anymore.
"I surprised myself today to be honest. When I was running with Clark and Bevan I was just pinching myself. I don't know how I was there and the legs were feeling good."
Despite getting a tyre puncture 4km from the end of the bike leg, Kemp heaped praise on Auckland's road surface and crowd support.
"The course was awesome. The road surface was beautiful; probably one of the best surfaces you'll ride on all year so it was great," he said.
"There was so much support for Bevan and Clark out there it actually inspired me a little bit, and fortunately for me my legs held out just a little bit longer than those guys."
In the women's pro race, Brisbane-based Luxford, the former world number one Olympic distance athlete, led almost start to finish to win in a time of 4:19:18, six minutes clear of double world champion Caroline Steffen (Switzerland) and Ironman New Zealand champion Meredith Kessler (USA).
Anna Ross was the best of the Kiwi starters finishing fifth.
The race attracted more than 1000 entrants, with an approximate $90,000 prize purse for the professionals, while the age groupers were competing for the 50 qualifying spots for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas and 30 places for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
Results, Ironman 70.3 Auckland:
Elite Men: Christian Kemp (Australia) 3:56:02, 1; Bevan Docherty (New Zealand) 3:56:36, 2; Clark Ellice (New Zealand) 3:58:23, 3; Paul Ambrose (UK) 3:59:26, 4; James Hodge (Australia) 4:00:55, 5.
Elite Women: Annabel Luxford (Australia) 4:19:18, 1; Caroline Steffen (Switzerland) 4:25:15, 2; Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:29:24, 3; Sarah Crowley (Australia) 4:32:04, 4; Anna Ross (New Zealand) 4:34:25, 5.
- © Fairfax NZ News