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.
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