The ITU World Triathlon Series has announced the Elite start list for the Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2019, and it’s brimming with the world’s most decorated triathletes.
In the women’s Elites, eight of the world’s top ten will be in Abu Dhabi on March 8-9, headlined by world champion Vicky Holland, world No2 Katie Zaferes and eight-time world champion, Flora Duffy.
Duffy, from Bermuda, is a two-time ITU world champion, two-time ITU cross triathlon world champion, and a four-time XTERRA world champion, as well as being a Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Duffy, despite coming off an injury which plagued her 2018 season, will be expected to excel on Yas Island’s Formula 1 track technical bike course – she is renowned as being one of the fiercest cyclists on the circuit.
However, she’ll be up against reigning world champion Holland from Great Britain, Zaferes and defending champion Rachael Klamer.
Klamer will be hoping for a repeat performance in 2019, which would make her the first successive ladies champion in Abu Dhabi. Improvement for Duffy on 2018 ought to be straightforward though, as she crashed out on her bike last year.
American Olympian Zaferes, one of the most consistent triathletes on the circuit, also crashed out in 2018 and is looking forward to a better race this March:
“I’ve set myself a number of targets for this season, and top spot on podiums is definitely one of them,” she said.
“After my bike crash in Abu Dhabi last year, I’m hoping for a better start to my season and taking the top spot would be amazing. I’m ready, and can’t wait to compete.”
In the men’s Elites, 19 athletes from the world’s top 20 feature, including Australian Jacob Birtwhistle, the 2018 bronze ITU WTS medallist, Vincent Luis, the 2015 bronze and 2018 silver ITU WTS medallist and one of the most exciting prospects in the sport, Brit Alex Yee.
Yee, 20, recently won the 2019 Discovery Triathlon World Cup in Cape Town and trains with the renowned Brownlee brothers in Leeds. This will be Yee’s first ITU World Triathlon Series experience, and what better place to start than Abu Dhabi.
In what will be a mouth-watering contest in the men’s Elites, last year’s defending champion from South Africa, Henri Schoeman will go head-to-head with the current world champion, Mario Mola from Spain.
Mola will be in good company, being joined by three other Spaniards, including exciting youngster Antonio Serrat Seoane, who is steadily rising up the WTS Rankings, in 31st position.
If safety in numbers was any indication to watch out for, then be wary of the Aussies. This year will see a total of five competing, including top five competitor Birtwhistle, who has topped the podium at several ITU races.
Despite not yet hitting WTS gold heading into 2019, he’ll be hoping that a brilliant 2018 season will inspire him to greater things in Abu Dhabi. Last season saw Birtwhistle grab no fewer than five top-five finishes at the top level, including silver in Yokohama, and a memorable second place in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Crowds will also have the chance to witness a new addition to the elite racing schedule at this year’s Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi – with the all new fast and furious mixed relay world series taking place on March 9. There are 22 country teams expected to take part.
With the mixed relay also making its Olympic debut in Tokyo next year, this race will no doubt be highly competitive as the countries go head-to-head for precious Olympic qualifying points.
Over the two-day event, 110 elite triathletes will compete for a total prize purse of $200,000, an increase of $50,000 from the previous year, alongside over 2,500 amateur triathletes.
HE Aref Al Awani, general secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “As an Olympic qualifying year, we were expecting a world-class field at this year’s Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi. And it hasn’t disappointed.
“We’re excited to welcome such an impressive list of elite athletes to Abu Dhabi once again this coming March. As well as delighting the crowds in the grandstands and the millions watching the race on TV from around the world, these athletes inspire the local community. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Dr Michael Bitzer, chief executive of title sponsor Daman, added: “We are delighted that this year’s Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi event boasts such a strong elite field.
“With triathlon’s best of the best competing once again in Abu Dhabi, we wanted to be a part of something that would inspire the UAE to become a fitter, more active place.”
For those interested in entering, or for more information, visit: www.abudhabi.triathlon.org.
Abu Dhabi has been awarded the 2022 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, following an announcement by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Executive Board at its annual Congress in Australia.
It is expected that the Grand Final will welcome more than 5,000 international triathletes as well as some 2,500 local triathletes over a five-day triathlon festival.
The Grand Final is the pinnacle of the global triathlon season, with World Champions being named across both elite and amateur categories as a result.
With the ITU World Triathlon season-opening race already a firm fixture in the regular sporting calendar, the winning bid for the Grand Final further bolsters Abu Dhabi’s global status in the triathlon world.
HE Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council said: “I congratulate the leadership for this winning bid for the 2022 ITU Grand Final. This decision clearly demonstrates how Abu Dhabi Sports Council continues to align with the emirate’s vision to develop and host the very best sporting activities.
“Our world-class facilities and other headline events such as the world famous Formula 1 Grand Prix and the award-winning Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship provide us with great opportunities to promote sport more widely in the UAE and showcase Abu Dhabi to the watching world.
“Hosting the Grand Final for the very first time will continue that legacy and we will be able to showcase the achievements of the many world-class athletes set to participate, as well as inspiring future generations to get involved.”
From 2010 to 2014, Abu Dhabi hosted five editions of Abu Dhabi International Triathlon – an all-inclusive race, welcoming an impressive range of elite, amateur and junior triathletes.
In 2014, as agreement was signed between the ITU, Abu Dhabi Sports Council and WORLDSPORT Arabia, resulting in the season-opening race of the ITU World Triathlon being held annually in the UAE’s capital. The inaugural ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi took place in March 2015 on Abu Dhabi’s corniche.
Al Awani added: “When the prestigious launch of the ITU’s World Triathlon Series calendar became available for the first time in 2014, Abu Dhabi recognised a unique opportunity to host the first and only ITU World Triathlon Series event in the Middle East.
“This was an opportunity to recognise and respond to the huge potential for growth of the sport regionally — and it was one that could not be missed.”
The 2018 event marked the fourth edition, following its move to Yas Island in 2017. The race circuit will take centre stage once again on 8 – 9 March 2019, as Abu Dhabi hosts the ITU World Triathlon for the fifth consecutive year.
Amateur participation in the event has seen impressive growth, from 1,600 in 2015, to 2,500 in 2018 — an increase of 56% — making the 2018 World Triathlon Abu Dhabi the largest triathlon in the region in terms of participation.
ABU DHABI SET TO HOST THE 2022 ITU GRAND FINAL! Thank you to @AbuDhabiSC, @worldtriathlon, our partners, triathletes & fans - we could not have done this without you. We're excited to continue the journey together as we prepare to host 5,000 int'l & 2500 local triathletes in 2022 pic.twitter.com/fXtLxUOmxx— WTS Abu Dhabi (@WTSAbuDhabi) September 16, 2018
As well as participation numbers, the event has also become the most inclusive triathlon in the region, with dedicated races introduced for para triathletes and Special Olympic triathletes.
Gary Marescia, Event Director of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi said: “The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi has gone from strength to strength.
“We are pleased to be able to provide something for everyone, whether beginners, seasoned amateurs, para-triathletes or professionals.
“Staging the ITU Grand Final will be a huge undertaking with Abu Dhabi playing host to so many athletes – this year’s successful bid highlights Abu Dhabi’s huge ambition to be a part of the very best sporting events.
“It’s fantastic news, and entirely fitting, that the emirate has been chosen to host such a world-class event.”
As a Grand Final host city, Abu Dhabi will also stage the ITU’s annual Congress in 2022, which takes place in the days leading up to the race.
Registration remains open for the Ashurst Tri Fest, a triathlon organised by Race Me Events on March 30, which takes place at Jebel Ali Waterfront, a stunning venue boasting water clear enough for dolphin and turtle-spotting.
The Tri Fest is a celebration of triathlon and is designed to encourage people from all ages and abilities to get involved or even try their first triathlon in an event heavily focused on inclusion and community spirit.
Categories start with children aged from 4-14 who have a choice of two distances to choose from and the parents have the opportunity to stay with their children if they wish to help them around the course.
Rio Watson, a teenager with a very rare chromosome disorder is taking part with TeamAngelWolf – and the event is encouraging children from all backgrounds and abilities to give the triathlon a go.
Paul Venn, one of the event owners, said: “Tri Fest is community-based event that appeals to experienced triathletes looking for a personal best or first timers just looking to finish. Crystal clear water, closed roads and a new, spectator friendly run course create a wonderful atmosphere and we expect upwards of 1,000 people to be racing.
“We are proud supporters of TeamAngelWolf as we share their message of inclusion and integrating children with special needs into society through sport. Our kids races give children of all ages and abilities to race with and be inspired by Rio who will be racing with his dad, Nick, and sister, Tia.”
Registration closes on March 24, click HERE to book your place.