Abu Dhabi International triathlon confirms a stellar elite start list
The Abu Dhabi International triathlon kicks off this Saturday with deep elite fields in both male and female, short and long-course races. It’s been interesting to see how the race acts as a precursor to top results later in the year and this should add another element of interest to what is already likely to be a fascinating race. Frederik Van Lierde‘s (BEL) 2013 victory here for example preceded his long-awaited win at Kona, while Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) also topped her 2013 Abu Dhabi victory with multiple course records and a further nine gold medals, including taking the ITU Long Distance World Championships and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships.
All three podium finishers in the men’s long-course race – Van Lierde, Eneko Llanos (ESP) and Tyler Butterfield (BER) – return to battle it out for position again with James Cunnama (RSA) and Sudrie Sylvain (FRA) likely to cause some trouble there too. Hauschildt will also be joined by her fellow podium finishers, Caroline Steffen (SUI) and Michelle Vesterby (DEN) and Jodie Swallow‘s (GBR) presence is likely to mix up the competition quite a lot, especially after her win and new course record at Ironman 70.3 South Africa last year.
On the short course, all eyes will inevitably be on the Brownlee brothers, especially with defending champ Alistair (GBR) back on the track after an injury damaged season last year. Bart Aernouts (BEL) and Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) will both be racing as part of the new Uplace-BMC pro team so it will be interesting to see how much that support has helped their form. Though the women’s race is not quite as deep, it’s competitive with Annabel Luxford (AUS), Laura Siddall (GBR) and Georgie Rutherford (GBR) likely to put in good performances. Reigning champ Edith Niederfriniger (ITA) hasn’t returned this year.
Butterfield, who came third in the event last year, took time out of his pre-race preparation to take in the capital of the United Arab Emirates and said: “It’s one of the world’s best triathlons. It’s bringing people to Abu Dhabi and it’s showcasing the city. I’m tapering pretty hard at the moment with really light training, if any, giving me time to really take in the city. It’s a long hard day on the long course of about six hours 45 mins plus so I want to be well rested.”
Long-course – Men’s Elite
Frederik Van Lierde
Edo van der Meer
Long-course – Women’s Elite
Yvonne van Vlerken
Short-course – Men’s Elite
Little Georg Potrebitsch
Short-course – Women’s Elite
Lucie Reed Zelenkova