Bozzone takes Challenge Dubai

Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand won the inaugural Challenge Dubai and Aussie Tim Reed and German Michael Raelert rounded out the podium. The final results were not made official until the early evening hours in Dubai, as the organizers had to deal with protests filed. Five pros who were originally listed in the top 10 took a shortcut during the bike segment when they missed a turn, and that gave them an advantage of around 4 minutes. These five were Terenzo Bozzone, Michael Raelert, Manuel Küng, Andy Potts and Ben Collins.

The pro men lined up to experience the choppy waters at the Jumeirah Beach today and, clad in wetsuits, made quick work of the two lap course. Andy Potts led after the first loop and again at the end of the swim, posting a 22:19 split. Right behind was Manuel Küng who in turn led a big bunch out of the water. Most athletes were where they were expected to be, but Luke McKenzie was likely unhappy with the 24:30 swim split.

During the bike leg the men were spread out for miles with large gaps between the athletes, as the 20-meter rule that had already been enforced in Bahrain was put to use here. But most of the men were even further apart. Martin Jensen ended with the fastest bike split of the day; the tall Dane cranked out an impressive 2:02:43 bike split. He moved into the lead around the halfway point of the bike. At around 53km the 5 Pros we mentioned earlier accidentally exited a roundabout too early, cutting off a section of the course and, putting them back into the lead. Several pros riding behind them noticed the faux-pas, and who chose the correct route, filed protests. In defense of the five athletes who took the "shortcut," the route was not crystal clear. As a result Martin Jensen caught some riders of that group again and that made it clear to him that something was not right. The Dane was then seen gesturing to officials, but the race ran its course. Terenzo Bozzone looked very strong at the front and Manuel Küng had simply a spectacular outing in Dubai. Bozzone and Küng reached the bike-run transition about 30 seconds apart, and Jensen and Raelert made it in about 2 minutes after the Kiwi.

Bozzone ran 1:13:51 and came across the finish in obvious elation.

"I haven't race this well since 70.3 Worlds last year and to be honest I did not know where my body would be," said Bozzone to slowtwitch before he learned about the protest. "I just went into it backing myself up and just did what I had to do, and thankfully my body responded how it needed to."

Michael Raelert ran 45 seconds faster, but fell short of the win. Manuel Küng came home 3rd, followed by Tim Reed who cranked out a fantastic 1:11:39. The best run of the day belonged to Ritchie Nicholls, who loped a 1:11:12, but well outside of contention. Andy Potts crossed the line in 5th place.

But it all changed as the awards ceremony got closer. 4 minutes was added to the times of those who had taken the inadvertent shortcut, thus knocking Andy Potts and Ben Collins out of the top 10. Küng dropped from 3rd to 9th place, and that in turn moved Tim Reed into second place ahead of Michael Raelert. Trevor Wurtele and Joe Gambles were awarded 8th and 10th place respectively.

"I think what happened during the bike leg of the race yesterday is very unfortunate, but I also know it was an honest mistake by the athletes. For now I would like to await further communication with the Challenge Family organization before I make any more comments," said Martin Jensen to slowtwitch after the 4 minute adjustments were made. Jensen missed out on being first back into T2 after his very stellar bike performance and being 5th instead of 3rd also is big financial setback, in terms of prize money and sponsor bonuses.

2015 Challenge Dubai
Dubai, UAE / February 27, 2015
1.9km swim / 90km bike /21.1km run

1. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:45:45
2. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:46:35
3. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:46:49
4. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 3:47:13
5. Martin Jensen (DEN) 3:47:19
6. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 3:47:20
7. Domenico Passuello (ITA) 3:48:08
8. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3:49:06
9. Manuel Küng (SUI) 3:49:39
10. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:50:23