British Olympic medallists Jonathan Brownlee and Vicky Holland are part of a stellar field, which include defending ITU world champions, Mario Mola (ESP) and Flora Duffy (BER), racing Abu Dhabi tomorrow.
The lineup features nine of last year’s top ten world ranked women, and eight of the top ten men, and names to look out for are Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt, and Spaniard Fernando Alarza in the men’s, and Aussie Ashleigh Gentle, Brits Non Stanford and Jess Learmonth and Americans Katie Zaferes and Kirsten Kasper, not to mention last year’s winner Kiwi Andrea Hewitt, in the women’s.
Jonathan Brownlee is targeting Series success this year as well as using this first race to help prepare him for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.
Having not raced in Abu Dhabi since 2015, Brownlee said: “To race on a F1 track is very special. For actually racing, it’s more technical on the bike. You can make the race interesting and hopefully I’m looking forward to a good race on Friday.”
Team England Commonwealth Games team mate, Tom Bishop returns after memorably finishing second last year, achieving his first ever Series podium finish. Olympian, Gordon Benson, and Team Scotland Commonwealth Games athlete, Marc Austin are Britain’s other male competitors.
Vicky Holland arrives in Abu Dhabi having started the season with an ITU World Cup win in South Africa earlier this month following a nine-month injury lay-off. The Rio 2016 bronze medal winner is part of a strong British lineup, including ITU Grand Final podium finisher, Jess Learmonth, former ITU world champion, Non Stanford, and world U23 medal winner, Sophie Coldwell.
Holland said: “This is a really stacked race to begin the year with, you don’t often get that at the first race of the year. I’ll get to test myself against the best.”
Alistair Brownlee has withdrawn from the race to continue treatment of a pulled calf muscle. He plans to travel to Australia next week to join the rest of the home nations teams preparing for the Commonwealth Games.
The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi takes place on Yas Island. The course covers a 750m sea swim, 20km bike and 5km run. The British athletes are Marc Austin, Gordon Benson, Tom Bishop and Jonathan Brownlee in the men’s, and Sophie Coldwell, Vicky Holland, Jess Learmonth and Non Stanford in the women’s.
How to watch
Elite women’s race: BBC Red Button & online live start 11:36am.