The pair produced a titanic battle at Geelong earlier this year until five-time world champion Alexander got the better of the young charger Appleton late on the run.
They will also face some stern challenges from the likes of IRONMAN 70.3 Asia-Pacific champion Tim Reed and IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship runner-up Tim Van Berkel.
In Geelong it took all of Alexander’s strength and experience to drop Appleton late in the run.
"I put a lot of surges in today, on one of the downhills I was running sub-three minute kilometres, and I still couldn’t drop Sam," he said post-race.
Since then Appleton added the IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton title to his list of wins.
“Busselton was special for me. I was locked in a battle with Terenzo Bozzone in almost exact same scenario as I was with Craig in Geelong.
“I felt a little as though I let Craig dictate the terms to me there, and this time I was more confident in backing my own ability at Busselton which I was able to use to get the win. I have had a dream start to my 2015 season and I am feeling confident about being competitive at Cairns,” he said.
The four Australians will be joined on the start line by compatriots Clayton Fettell, a powerful swim-biker, Alex Reithmeier, fourth at IRONMAN New Zealand, and Matty White. .
Two-time IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Champion Caroline Steffen will have her hands full with former short course star Annabel Luxford, fresh of her sixth place on debut at the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship in March.
Steffen and Luxford spent much of the bike leg within sight of each other in Melbourne, before Steffen pulled away on the run to finish third.
Steffen is after a little redemption after she failed to finish the IRONMAN 70.3 in Cairns last year.
The pair will be joined by Australian and current IRONMAN 70.3 champion Lisa Marangon, Aussie-based British athlete Polly Mosley and a bunch of strong contenders from both Australia and New Zealand.
Race day will see over 3,000 age group athletes chasing their own personal bests.
The Cairns Airport Adventure Festival, incorporating the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns | Flight Centre Active Travel IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns, will be held from Sunday, June 7 – Monday, June 15, 2015.
For event information visit www.ironmancairns.com
Courtesy: Ironman Asia Pacific