All in all, a deeper quality field than the men – lacking only Chrissie Wellington, Mirinda Carfrae, Sandra Wallenhorst, Erika Csomor, Michellie Jones, Linsey Corbin and Kate Major.
The contenders are golden and include the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 16th, 20th and 22nd Kona finishers and the Ironman 70.3 World Champion. With Julie Dibens, Yvonne Van Vlerken, Rebekah Keat, Catriona Morrison, Samantha McGlone, Tereza Macel, Leanda Cave, Virginia Berasategui, Joanna Lawn and Rachel Joyce on hand, the action in the women’s pro field at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon should be should be fast and furious.
Given the long bike and short run, dominant cyclist Julie Dibens should have a good day and should break out into a good lead without the crowds of overtaking men pros that muddied the competitive waters as happened at Clearwater. However, Dibens’ longest racing bike split is half of the Abu Dhabi distance and she is experimenting with daylong nutrition.
Julie Dibens 3-1
The first ever three-straight women’s Xterra World Champion, a two-time Olympic qualifier, and one of the strongest women cyclists in triathlon. Dibens kicked Chrissie Wellington’s butt at the Boulder 5430 long course triathlon and broke the course record with a 4:10:58 overall time and her 2:12:10 bike bested Wellington by 4 minutes. At Clearwater, she broke the women’s bike split record and smashed the 4-hour barrier for women at the 70.3 distance and won the world title. Dibens considers this race to be a perfect tune-up for Kona with a long bike in hot temps which will test her nutrition strategy and followed by a shorter run that won’t trash her legs and cover up her one relative weakness.
Yvonne Van Vlerken 4-1
Strong second in 2008 at Kona was still 15 minutes behind Wellington – even after Chrissie’s 10-minute pit stop to repair a flat. While she cannot be ignored after breaking 9 hours three times at the Ironman distance, Van Vlerken’s 2009 was not as good as her three-win 2008. In 2009 she took 2nd at Geelong 70.3 to Sam Warriner, 2nd to Wallenhorst at Frankfurt, and a win at Ironman Germany 70.3 over Tine Boman. Potential to run sub-three hours, but her bike gives away a lot to the best riders. Good training in Canary Islands.
Rebekah Keat 9-2
The good karma kid after lending the otherwise-dead-in-the-water Wellington her CO2 canisters at Kona 2008. When Wellington left miracle worker coach Sutton because Team TBB contract limited her suddenly immense sponsorship opportunities, Keat signed on with Sutton and her 2009 results have been typically life-changing. After a third at Geelong 70.3 and a 23-minutes-behind second place to Wellington at Ironman Oz, Keat got in gear at Roth with an 8:39:24, a second-best-Iron-distance-effort-ever finish and outrunning Wellington 2:55 to 2:57. Won Challenge France and took second at ITU long distance Worlds in Perth, but DQ’d for draft calls at Kona, erasing her 5th across the line.
Catriona Morrison 5-1
The Scottish charger has won six ITU World championship medals, mostly in duathlon. She took the ITU short course duathlon world championship silver in 2005 and gold in 2006; won ITU world championship long course triathlon silver in 2006; and won the ITU long course duathlons world championship silver in 2006 and golds in 2007 and 2008.
Taking on more triathlon, the Morrison was on fire in 2009. After a disappointing 7th at Ironman 70.3 Worlds in 2008, she scored a 2nd to a revived Natascha Badmann at New Orleans 70.3 with a second-best 1:22 run; beat Mirinda Carfrae handily while winning St. Croix 70.3, beat Julie Dibens (who beat Wellington at Boulder) winning UK 70.3, took second to Wellington at Timberman 70.3 while running 1:20, and took a strong 3rd in her Iron-distance debut at Quelle Challenge Roth, posting a strong 4:48 bike and a solid 3:03 run to finish in 8:48 and take third behind Wellington and Keat.
Has the game to win if she is ready.
Samantha McGlone 6-1
After her perfectly executed second place debut at Kona in 2007, falling just five minutes short of derailing Wellington, this mentally tough, highly disciplined, fast and strong Canadian was on track to make her rivalry with Wellington the second coming of Mark & Dave. Then puzzling injuries hit midway through 2008, leading to her withdrawal from a rematch at Kona and a frustratingly slow rehab through 2009. McGlone took a 3rd at Ironman Lake Placid with a 3:15 run, a 3rd at Boise 70.3, a 2nd to Belinda Granger at Honu 70.3 before placing 5th at Ironman Hawaii to cap off a strong comeback year with a race-record win at Ironman Arizona featuring a sub-5 hour bike. Most recent race scored a win at the Desert Classic Duathlon.
Tereza Macel 7-1
Czech born, Canadian resident and former ITU contender hit it big in 2009 under Brett Sutton coaching. Started off with third places at Singapore 70.3 and in blistering heat at Ironman China. Then came breakthrough wins at Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Canada and an impressive 4th at Ironman Hawaii. .
Caroline Steffen 8-1
This 31-year-old late bloomer from Switzerland is on the famed Team TBB of Brett Sutton and is coming on strong. In 2009, scored a 4th at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds last November, took 3rds at Ironman 70.3 Austria and Ironman Australia and Switzerland, won the Gold Coast Half Ironman, and so far in 2010 finished second at the Port of Tauranga Half and won the Geelong 70.3 in record time in February.
Leanda Cave 9-1
The 2002 ITU Olympic distance world champion has become a very fine long course triathlete and has entered Ironman Hawaii and several other Ironman events with her high hopes but remains just a few steps from fulfilling her tremendous promise at the longer distance. She has several top finishes at 70.3 events – 2nd places at St. Croix in 2005 at and Eagleman and Florida in 2006, 3rd at California 70.3 in 2007. In the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, she finished fourth at Clearwater in 2006 and third place in 2007. In 2008, she won her first Ironman 70.3 event at Florida, but faded to 9th at Clearwater. In 2009, she maintained one of the best records at the Ironman 70.3 distance, taking 3rd at California 70.3, 2nd at Wildflower, and winning Florida by a margin of 8 minutes over runner-up Jo Lawn. At the Ironman distance, her 2nd place at Ironman Arizona in 2009 was promising but she fell to 11th at Quelle Challenge Roth in 2009
Virginia Berasategui 11-1
This Spanish star won the 2003 ITU long course World Championship, Ironman Lanzarote in 2004 and 2005, Ironman Germany 70.3 in 2007 and 2008. At Wildflower in 2009, she smashed the field in 4:35:00, with runner-up Leanda Cave 5 minutes and 13 seconds back at the finish and then took the European long course championship. After her 6th placing in 2008 at Hawaii, Berasategui scored a 3rd place at the Ironman World Championship in Kona last year. Only problem at Abu Dhabi -- still recovering from injuries suffered when hit by a car while training on the bike in Mallorca in February.
Rachel Joyce 13-1
Late blooming Great Brit had a remarkably mathematically consistent Ironman rise: 5th at Ironman Florida 2008 and in 2009 took 3rd at Ironman South Africa and 2nd at Ironman Lanzarote topped off by an impressive 6th in her Kona debut.
Joanna Lawn 15-1
Kiwi had record six Ironman New Zealand wins before getting pipped by fellow Kiwi Gina Ferguson last year. In 2009 took 3rd at Florida 70.3, 6th at Quelle Challenge Roth, and 3rd at Buffalo Springs Lake. Got revenge on Crawford with her 7th win at Taupo two weeks ago. Question: Can she recover?
Tine Deckers 18-1
Won on tough Ironman France course in race record time and took 13th at Ironman Hawaii last year. Very strong bike should benefit from 200k at Abu Dhabi and weak run abetted by 20k distance.
Lucie Zelenkova 19-1
Czech born South African resident, 35 years old. Great swimmer, medium biker made 2004 Olympics but DNF. Won Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events in South Africa last year. Fell to 23rd after leading swim and early bike at Kona, got redeemed with 5th at the ITU long course Worlds in Perth.
Lisbeth Kristensen 20-1
This charming, tall Danish mom got back on track in 2009, taking 11th at Ironman Western Australia, 4th at Ironman New Zealand, 3rd at Ironman Switzerland and at Ironman Louisville. If she’s back on the form that won the Almere Iron-distance triathlon in 2000, the 2001 ITU long course world championship, and 2006 titlist at Ironman Brazil and Ironman Western Australia, Kristensen is a contender.
Heleen bij de Vaate 22-1
In 2008 won Ironman Arizona and Almere and took second at Lanzarote in 2008 and second with an Iron-distance PR of 9:07:40 at Ironman Florida in 2007. Finished 13th in her Ironman Hawaii debut in 2006.
Hillary Biscay 24-1
The most prolific Ironman competitor with an average of 8 to 10 Ironman distance events in a year. Hilary won Ironman Wisconsin in 2008. With a first pack swim and a strong bike, Hilary should benefit from the 3k swim 200k bike 30k run format.
Sofie Goos 26-1
In 2009, won Challenge Barcelona, Antwerp half Ironman and Ironman Florida 2009 in a swift time of 9:08:39 and also won the Nice distance Ibiza Triathlon in 2008.
Martina Dogana 30-1
Won Ironman France 2008 in record time and finished 24th at Ironman Hawaii in 2009.
Nicole Hofer 33-1
Third place at Ironman 70.3 Austin, highlighted by a 2:12:47 bike.
Heather Jackson 35-1
Princeton grad won 2008 Ironman Hawaii age group title in 10:23:55 and starred on Princeton’s hockey team.