Nine of the world’s top 10 women in triathlon will lead a stellar field of 50 women from 20 countries at the ITU’s World Triathlon Series opener in Abu Dhabi on March 2.
The world-class field, set to tackle a 750-metre swim, 20-km bike and 5-km run over the Yas Island course, will be one of the most competitive women’s line-ups in the event’s history.
The powerful race bills includes defending champion Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand, 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series champion Flora Duffy, Austria’s Sara Vilic who finished third in Abu Dhabi last year, World No2 Ashleigh Gentle of Australia, World No3 Katie Zaferes of the USA, and Great Britain’s Vicky Holland.
The top nine participants boast a total of 61 wins and 171 podiums between them.
After a stunning 2017 that saw Duffy clinch four gold medals on the WTS circuit and the World Championship, the 30-year-old Bermudian is relishing the prospect of stepping out at the Yas course next month.
“I was disappointed to miss the Abu Dhabi race last year due to an injury,” she said. “I’ve heard a ton of great things about the course so I can’t wait to tackle it next month — especially the bike course which looks like it’s really suited to my aggressive style of racing.
“I’ve never topped the podium in Abu Dhabi so, of course, it would be amazing to start the season with a win. I’m going all in as always and hoping for the best possible outcome.”
In addition to the elite field, the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi has amateur race categories suited to all ages and abilities, and will welcome 3,500 amateur athletes to take part in the two-day event.
Triathlon’s most recognisable duo, the Brownlee brothers, will descend on the capital next month to take part in the ITU World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi 2018 on 2-3 March.
Alastair and Jonny have dominated the sport for over 10 years and provided one of the most inspiring moments in sporting history when Alistair helped younger brother Jonny across the finish line in ITU World Triathlon Series Grant Final 2016 in Mexico.
“I’m definitely keen to get out there and race in March – the new course on the F1 track looks really good for a sprint distance race,” said two-time Olympic gold medallist Alastair.
“I’m looking forward to toeing the line against a top field in Abu Dhabi to see where I am after coming back from injury – it’s no secret that I’ll be looking to be competitive, especially with the Commonwealth Games coming up in April.”
The star of last year’s women’s elite race, Andrea Hewitt, will also return to Yas Island this spring to compete for the WTS Abu Dhabi title.
Hewitt contested another of the most memorable finishes of the ITU World Triathlon Series calendar in the 2017 event against Jodie Stimpson, with Hewitt pipping the defending champion on the iconic blue carpet.
“The 2017 race was a turning point for me both personally and professionally,” said Hewitt.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what this year’s race holds and with a bit of luck, I’ll be on the podium again.”
Organisers have also announced that the fourth edition of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi will be a test event for the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
It will be the first time the region has hosted the Games, which are expected to see over 7,000 athletes descend on the UAE from 14 to 21 March 2019.
One of the UAE’s biggest and most popular mass participation sporting events, TriYAS attracts 1,500+ athletes from around the region and beyond who push themselves to the limit in the swimming, cycling and running challenge.
This year, TriYAS by Daman’s ActiveLife, is open to even more members of the community with a series of new, shorter courses aimed at first-timers, younger athletes as well as short-distance speedsters.
The Super Sports Triathlon Championship – which is part of a four-race series – will offer three categories: T1, which involves a 100-metre swim, 3-kilometre bike course and a 1-kilometre run; T2 includes a 200-metre swim, 6-kilometre cycle plus a 2-kilometre run; T3 involving a 300-metre swim, 9-kilometre bike race and a 3-kilometre run.
TriYAS will also be the finale of the Super Sports Triathlon Championship season, hosting the showpiece with the top 20 males and top 10 females.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “TriYAS is also a community event that brings people of all ages, fitness levels and nationalities together with the goal of improving their overall health and, importantly, to have fun. This year, with the inclusion of Super Sports Triathlon Championship, we have added more distances to make participating even more accessible.
“The numbers of youngsters taking part along with first-timers and amateur athletes has grown each year. Our ultimate aim is to help members of the community to get into the best shape possible and to promote the importance of leading an active and healthy lifestyle.
Daman’s ActiveLife is National Health Insurance Company – Daman’s health and fitness initiative that aims to create healthier communities across the UAE.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, CEO of Daman, added: “The TriYAS by Daman’s ActiveLife is a hugely popular sporting event that motivates our ever-growing community to incorporate health and fitness into their daily lives. It is one of the key events in the ActiveLife calendar for its important role in supporting our aim to create healthier communities across the UAE.
“We are delighted to see this exciting community fitness activity grow over the past years to include people from every walk of life, age and fitness level. With new and refined categories in every edition; we are sure the event will continue to attract more people each year.”
Experienced adult competitors can choose from two distances: the TriYAS Olympic category, which covers a 1,500-metre swim, 38-kilometre cycle and 10-kilometre run, and the shorter Sprint category, involving a 750-metre swim, 22-kilometre bike course and 5.5 kilometre run.
There is also a dedicated children’s race. The KidsTRI is aimed at youngsters aged between (9-16 years) who can test themselves over a 100 metre swim, 6 kilometre cycle and a 1.5 kilometre run.
Adding a level of peak performance there will again be ProFIELD made up of local professionals as well as a selection of internationals. Last year’s TriYAS winner Patrick Lange went on to win the Iron Man World Championship so the quality of the field that is attracted to TriYAS is testimony to the unique experience it provides athletes of all abilities.
Until December 31, early bird registration prices for UAE residents will be available with discounts of up to 20 per cent on standard rates.
With limited spaces available, organisers are urging competitors to register for next year’s TriYas soon or risk missing out on the fun.
To register for TriYas, please visit: http://www.yasmarinacircuit.com.