Dirk Bockel is race ready indeed

The Luxembourger Dirk Bockel has the work done for the Abu Dhabi Triathlon and is now waiting for the big day to come. After finishing in second place at the inaugural event, he is considered one of the favorites for the 2011 title and had a few words about the race with slowtwitch.

Slowtwitch: Have you settled in in Abu Dhabi?

Dirk: Yeah settled very nicely thanks. It is easy to feel comfortable out here in these surroundings—especially with the way the Abu Dhabi Race Organization treats us. We are all getting used to the 5 star treatment out here in the UAE.

ST: When did you actually get to the UAE?

Dirk: Saturday night after a long trip from the Florida via Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi. Travel was very smooth from door to door. I was one of the first athletes out here and it gave me enough time to acclimatize a bit.

ST: Have you sampled the local cuisine or are you more mellow before a big race like this?

Dirk: Well the buffet here at the Khalidya Palace Rayhaan is pretty amazing--we have plenty of great local food without having to venture out. I am saving the real dining experience for after the race though. I try to be very careful before the race even though I am blessed with an iron stomach. I just try to be careful with drinking from the tap anywhere I travel.

ST: What did your preparation for this race look like?

Dirk: I spent 3 months preparing for this race with focus on a fast run and lots of bike mileage. Abu Dhabi is one of my peak races for the year, but despite the distance I still had to do a lot of short distance training. All in all everything went smooth. I am better prepared than I was last year—which is great.

ST: A lot of folks think that you are one of the folks to beat. Do you thrive of this or would you prefer more anonymity?

Dirk: I haven’t had any problems dealing with that part of racing so far—it is kind of a part of the deal. I just try to keep a cool head and focus on the job. I definitely prefer being the "man to beat" instead of being anonymous though. I am a social person so like to have people around me—even though there is a time and a place for everything. Racing triathlon is the best job in the world and I like to have fun doing it.

ST: Looking around at the morning swims and the Abu Dhabi venue in general, do you have some kind of Kona Champs déjà vu?

Dirk: Well it is definitely one of the strongest fields I have ever experienced outside of the world champs. It has been fun catching up with everyone and it is much more relaxed than it is in Kona. There is also a big realization that this is going to be one hell of a race.

ST: Anyone specific you are looking closer at?

Dirk: Well since nearly all of the best athletes in the world are racing out here this weekend, there is nobody in particular that I have to pick out. The organizers were able to bring a stunning field to this part of the world and it is a perfect early season check to see where everyone is. It is not really those famous names and their history that count here because it is just going to depend on who put in the work during the winter. Despite those hand-tying rules from the WTC, it is great to see that lots of athletes are racing outside of the mandatory Kona qualifying schedule—which is hard to do these days.

ST: Anyone stick out who you think might surprise a few folks?

Dirk: I don't think we will have any big surprises but I think we can never underestimate anyone in such a stacked field. The prize purse is going to motivate some of us to grow wings out there.

ST: How about among the school kids you saw this morning?

Dirk: I taught a sports class for high school kids from 3 different schools in Abu Dhabi. The focus was on open water swimming skills. I saw some great talent out there and lots of motivation—and I quite enjoyed being the professor for a day.

ST: Your thoughts on the women’s race?

Dirk: It's also a tough field but not as deep as it is for the men’s race. I haven’t had a close look at their start list since I have a lot going on with my own race—but I am sure some of the those girls are going to beat some men this weekend.

ST: Are you dialed on your new ride?

Dirk: All is good. Retul sent out Mat to help us get the perfect last minute fit and with his help I feel very comfortable and fast on the new Blue Triad SP. It’s a sleek machine that is built for speed and I will try to take advantage of it on race day.

ST: Any other thoughts?

Dirk: Many! Since the stacked field provides me with lots to think about in terms of race tactics—there are so many various outcomes that could come about. This is going to be one interesting race to watch—and an even more interesting one to race.

ST: Good luck on Saturday.

Dirk: Thanks for the chat Herbert--and sorry you can’t be with us over here. See ya soon.