Swiss powerhouse Daniela Ryf stormed to a very fine win in Dubai and thus aligned herself well to capture the $1,000,000 Triple Crown purse. Canadian Heather Wurtele finished second and Danish pro Helle Frederiksen rounded out the podium.
Athletes arriving at the race venue this morning were greeted by very brisk winds and cool temperatures that in the end made it a wetsuit legal affair for pros and age groupers alike, and because of the choppy waters the swim course was altered to two loops inside the bay versus the one lap that had been initially in place. Lauren Branden swam smooth and also navigated the waters well, and that allowed the American to exit the water clear of any other pro in 23:19. Behind her there was a bit of carnage as quite a few of the athletes swam too far to the left as they came back to shore after the first lap and thus ended up taking longer. Jodie Swallow led the chasers out of the water in 24:37.
Lauren Brandon led the race for quite some time but eventually was reeled in by the chasers. Alicia Kaye, Jodie Swallow, Annabel Luxford and Helle Frederiksen were all riding well, but trouble was brewing. After an early morning warm-up scare with a torn derailleur cable Daniela Ryf steadily and calmly sliced through the wind and came closer to those who had managed to exit the water ahead of her, and those who pulled away from her early on during the bike. Feeling especially strong during the second half of the bike the Swiss pro moved into the lead and ended up with a race best 2:18:54 bike split. Heather Wurtele also managed to ride sub 2:20 on this very windy course, and that brought her into T2 not far behind Jodie Swallow who ended up with a 2:22:22 bike split.
Ryf then went on to show that she is not just a phenomenal cyclist and ran very well too along the Jumeirah Beach 2 lap course. Behind her Wurtele reeled in Swallow and moved into second place, but did not come closer to Ryf. When it was all said and done Ryf crossed the line in 4:05:01 with a race best 1:17:24 run split.
"On the bike I had ups and downs today. Jodie Swallow and Alicia Kaye really rode fast early on and I could not stay with them. That then caused some doubts, but after about 50km I finally felt good. I pushed really hard those last 40km and I think that is where I won the race," said Ryf to slowtwitch. "To win an important race like this so early in the season feels very good and also lets me know were I stand and what I still have to do."
Wurtele ran 1:18:41 and that gave her the runner-up spot with a total time of 4:-9:21, and Helle Frederiksen ran past Jodie Swallow to grab the final podium spot in 4:11:43.
"This was a great race. I love it when conditions are hard," said Wurtele to slowtwitch.
2015 Challenge Dubai
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 4:05:01
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:09:21
3. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 4:11:43
4. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 4:13:35
5. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:15:55
6. Alicia Kaye (USA) 4:19:47
7. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:22:41
8. Leanda Cave (GBR) 4:25:22
9. Svenja Bazlen (GER) 4:25:57
10. Lauren Brandon (USA) 4:27:39