Eneko Llanos won the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in a time of 6:34:37 and along the way defeated a stellar field. Julie Dibens grabbed the women’s title despite having to deal with a flat tire. That means the 2009 XTERRA World Champions are now the newly crowned Abu Dhabi International Champs.
After a couple foggy mornings in Abu Dhabi, the race day started with a beautiful clear sky and very deep field of Professional athletes entered the calm waters on the beach of the Emirates Palace Hotel. Frederik Van Lierde pushed the early pace during the swim and he had Fraser Cartmell, Philip Graves and Dann Brook hot on his heels as he came out of the water after the first lap of the two lap 3k swim. On the second lap though Cartmell went to the front and he managed to get out of the water first. Graves was next into T1 next and Rasmus Henning and Dirk Bockel weren’t far behind. There were in fact 14 more athletes who managed to stay within 20 seconds of Cartmell.
The bike promised to be hot, both in terms of temperatures but also in terms of the action on the 200 km bike course. Bjorn Andersson and Graves made a few attempts to get away early on, but by the time the leaders hit 40k they were now a group of 20 and had 2 minutes on all other pursuers. Different people moved to front of that pack and as the race went one some of the Pros started to pay the price for the hot pace in hot temperatures. Faris Al-Sultan got a flat tire at an unfortunate time just as Raynard Tissink managed to get a gap of almost a minute on his competitors. But the lead of Tissink didn’t last very long and soon he was reeled in again, but now the front group was down to 9 athletes. Surprisingly no longer in that group were Andersson, Jordan Rapp and Ronnie Schildknecht. Tissink soon also dropped out of the group and at the very end of the bike Van Lierde got a gap and he was first back into T2. Graves wasn’t far behind, and neither were Bockel, Henning, Cartmell, Eneko Llanos, Andreas Boecherer and Maik Twelsiek.
Out on the run though Llanos soon took charge and he was followed by Bockel and Henning. A bit further behind Al-Sultan and Rapp were running very smooth and they started to reel in some of the guys in front of them. Graves really didn’t look well as he finished the first half of the 20 km run and soon after he started to walk. Twelsiek also slowed down a bit, but in the front it was all about Llanos. The Spaniard crossed the line first in a time of 6:34:37 and earned $50,000 for his effort. Bockel got away from his friend Henning late in the run and grabbed a very fantastic runner-up spot. Henning held on to third.
The Pro women entered the water a few seconds after the men and as expected Lucie Zelenkova was leading them after the first 1.5 km loop. Julie Dibens, Leanda Cave, Tereza Macel and Rachel Joyce though were not far behind. These 5 maintained that position on the second loop and that is also how they finished the swim.
Leaving T1 disaster struck Rachel Joyce as she crashed just a few yards after the mount line and really cut her foot, and that meant the race was over for the 2009 Ironman Hawaii 6th place finisher. Meanwhile though Dibens had pushed to the front in transition and about 40km into the bike she had a minute and a half gap on her friend and fellow K-Swiss athlete Leanda Cave. Macel was next another minute and a half back and her team TBB team mates Caroline Steffen, Zelenkova and Rebekah Keat were another minute behind her. Dibens increased her lead over Cave to almost 3 minutes by the 90km mark and Macel held on to third place over 5 minutes back, but now the tiny Spaniard Virginia Berasategui had moved into third just under 6 minutes back. Berasategui was hit by a car not too long ago and it was surprising to see her at the start line, but she seemed to not have been bothered by that issue. Dibens then flatted and lost her lead to Cave, and Berasategui was now in third. But Dibens soon passed Cave again and that is how they entered T2.
Out on the run Dibens steadily increased her lead and Cave looked very solid in second place. Berasategui was more than 4 minutes behind Cave into T2, but had herself a 7 minute cushion on her closest pursuer. But as Diben’s lead over Cave grew to 6 minutes, so did Cave’s lead over Berasategui. In the end Dibens was able to really celebrate her win and crossed the line in 7:08:25, $50,000 richer. Cave crossed the line in second and was completely happy with the result. Berasategui rounded out the podium.
Abu Dhabi Interbational Triathlon
Abu Dhabi, UAE / March 13
3km swim / 200km bike / 20km run
Top 10 men
1. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 6:34:37
2. Dirk Bockel (LUX) 6:35:30
3. Rasmus Henning (DEN) 6:36:07
4. Fraser Cartmell (GBR) 6:36:12
5. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 6:36:31
6. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 6:37:53
7. Jordan Rapp (USA) 6:38:02
8. Andreas Boecherer (GER) 6:38:48
9. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 6:39:40
10. Raynard Tissink (RSA) 6:41:48
Top 10 women
1. Julie Dibens (GBR) 7:08:25
2. Leanda Cave (GBR) 7:12:23
3. Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 7:18:23
4. Caroline Steffen (SWI) 7:21:01
5. Carrie Lester (AUS) 7:23:04
6. Tine Deckers (BEL) 7:25:22
7. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 7:26:05
8. Lucie Zelenkova (CZE) 7:26:33
9. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 7:29:13
10. Tereza Macel (CZE) 7:29:27
Images from the Abu Dhabi Triathlon - Race Day
Images from the Abu Dhabi Triathlon - Friday
Images from the Abu Dhabi Triathlon - Thursday
The Abu Dhabi Experience - images from the launch in November