Alistair Brownlee wins the 2013 Abu Dhabi Triathlon.
In his Arabian debut, London 2012 Gold medal winner, Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee, smashed the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon short course record on his way to clinching his first win since the Olympic Games last summer. The triathlon superstar confirmed that this would be the first of many longer distance events for him, and intends to race as an Ironman athlete after the Rio Olympics.
Suited up in the colours of the Union Jack, the 24-year-old Yorkshireman looked every inch the champion in Abu Dhabi. Having spent much of his winter training acclimatising to the warm Arabian temperatures, the hard work paid off for the back-to-back European Triathlon Union champion as he finished the 111.5kms pure power course in 3h20m18s – 29 seconds ahead of the previous record, set in 2010 by Dutchman Jan Van Berkel.
And Brownlee, who is used to the shorter Olympic distances and is in Abu Dhabi to expand his competitive horizons, was full of praise to the thousands of fans who turned out to cheer him over the line.
“It is a good race to do for an introduction to longer distances and I would like to do more, but right now my focus us is on the ITU circuit. Thanks so much for all the support, it was fantastic, and well done to all those that raced, I hope you all do it again!” said Brownlee, whose win will send shockwaves through the long course community.
In the race build up, Brownlee spent time in Abu Dhabi’s second city of Al Ain, training in the lush oases and open spaces that characterise the emirate’s heritage heartland. And on race day, the young Briton was in fine fettle, coming out of the water in the opening 1.5kms swim leg comfortably positioned.
With a cycle distance of 100kms more than Brownlee is used to, pundits tipped the following bike section to be the make or break for the youngster, and it nearly proved to be true. After taking a wrong turn on the circuit, Brownlee lost ground and was overtaken by Dutchman Cesar Beilo – who won the Abu Dhabi short course in 2011.
Coming into the final 10kms run, Brownlee was nestled in second place. Having conserved his energy on the bike, the look of determination on his face was easy to see at the final transition. With thousands of fans lined up to cheer him on, the Olympic golden boy dug deep to make light work of the final run, bringing it home in emphatic style.
“I was swimming very fast in the beginning, apologies to anyone we might have kicked on the way through,” joked Brownlee on the Abu Dhabi finish line.
“The bike was a challenge. I saw a sign on the bike course and thought that was where I needed to go; it was only when I got back on the course I realised I had been there before. I tried to pace it quite well, but I have no idea how to pace 100kms on a bike, but it seemed to go ok.
“I felt tired towards the end, but I didn’t have to push too hard, which was good as it was getting hot; it’s a bit of a shock as it is zero degrees back home and nearly 30 here, but it was early morning so I didn’t struggle too much.”
Beilo took second place, more than five minutes behind Brownlee, with Russia’s Alexander Bryukhankov taking third. Egyptian star, Omar Nour, finished in seventh place, making him the highest Arab athlete on the day.
Event organiser, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), said that Brownlee’s win would be a huge inspiration to local athletes and it hoped to see more kids get into the sport because of it.
“Brownlee is a true champion and has been a winner both on and off the course this week, helping to inspire a future generation of athletes to take up the sport and embrace healthy lifestyles,” said Faisal Al Sheikh, Director of Events Bureau, TCA Abu Dhabi.
Since the event’s debut in 2010, when it was dubbed ‘The World’s Most Glamorous Triathlon’ by top triathlon website, www.TriRadar.com, Abu Dhabi has seen a surge in the number of training facilities and triathlon clubs across the emirate, further pressing its case as a leading winter training destination. Full details of training centres and clubs, can be found at www.abudhabitriathlon.com
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