The ITU World Triathlon Series (ITU WTS) 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 competing today.
In the Women’s Elites, eight of the world’s top ten will be in Abu Dhabi on March 8-9, headlined by Word Champion Vicky Holland, World No. 2 Katie Zaferes and 8-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 Exterra 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 1TM 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 Vicky Holland from Great Britain, World No. 2 Katie Zaferes and defending champion Rachael Klamer. Ahead of her return to Yas Marina, Klamer will be hoping for a successful repeat performance in 2019, which would make her the first repeat 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 Katie Zaferes, one of the most consistent triathletes on the circuit, also crashed out in 2018 and is looking forward to a better race this coming March: “I’ve set myself a number of targets for this season, and top spot on podiums is definitely one of them. After my bike crash in Abu Dhabi last year, I'm hoping for a better start to my season this coming March and taking the top spot would be amazing! I’m ready, and can’t wait to compete. Of course – I’m also really hoping to get selected to race in the Mixed Relay in Abu Dhabi. As athletes who usually race as individuals, we love the opportunity to race as a team! Its sure to have the crowds in Abu Dhabi on the edge of their seats!”
In the Men’s Elites, 19 athletes from the world’s top 20 will feature, including Australian Jacob Birtwhistle (2018 Bronze ITU WTS medallist) Vincent Luis (2015 Bronze and 2018 Silver ITU WTS medallist) and one of the most exciting prospects in the sport, Brit Alex Yee. Twenty-year-old Yee recently won the 2019 Discovery Triathlon World Cup in Cape Town, and trains with the renowned Brownlee Brothers in Leeds, UK. 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 in the men’s race. Mola will be in good company, being joined by three other Spaniards, including the exciting youngster, 25 year-old 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 in the 2019 Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, including top five competitor Jacob 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. Jacob has two goals in his sights: to become the World and 2020 Olympic Champion.
Never however write-off Frenchman Vincent Luis, the winner of both the 2017 and 2018 World Triathlon Series Grand Finals. Ahead of Abu Dhabi, his 2018 form should be both feared and respected. Not only was last season one of the Frenchman’s strongest to date but he finished in third place in Abu Dhabi, so he has proven form in the capital. Vincent also secured individual and gold in the Mixed Relay at WTS Hamburg along with a brilliant win on the Gold Coast that secured him second in the overall WTS season rankings.
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 Saturday 9 March. 22 country teams are expected to take part, including the full roster of previous World Champions – France, USA, Australia, Germany and the UK. 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!
The fifth edition of the event is set to attract participants and visitors in record numbers, and spectators will be particularly thrilled by the news that the very best triathletes will be competing on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. 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.
Speaking about the world-class athlete field, HE Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council host of the Daman World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, 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, and why we continue to bring events such as the ITU’s World Triathlon Series to the capital. I look forward to cheering not only the 110 elite athletes race on 8 – 9 March, but also the 2,500 amateur athletes racing in their personal ‘Olympic Games’!”
Dr Michael Bitzer, Chief Executive of Daman, title sponsor of this year’s event: “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.”
Dr Bitzer added: “We expect this year’s elite entries to encourage potential amateur participants to take on the challenge and sign-up. Supporting events that encourage people to get active and improve their physical fitness and overall wellbeing is important to us at Daman, its therefore not a surprise that we are very pleased to see so many already signed up to join those world athletes next month.”
For the full Elite Individual Start List for both men and women, follow the link: here
For the full Elite Relay Start List, follow the link: here.
For those interested in entering, or for more information, visit: www.abudhabi.triathlon.org