Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain will take on the non-drafting Abu Dhabi International Triathlon in March of 2013. The ITU star will not be racing among other pros in the long-distance Abu Dhabi race as he will take on the shorter 111.5K race, which is made up of a 1.5K swim, a 100K bike and a 10K run.
“I’ll be in the UK through the winter, where it will be freezing, so coming to Abu Dhabi will be a 30 degree temperature shift, and that is a big factor,” Brownlee said in a press release. “I’ll need to change my training to suit that. I’ll be doing some sessions in a heat chamber and I’ll try to get away before the event to help acclimatise. I’ll also be setting up my bike differently to deal with the length as that has a major role to play in my success.”
“I’m used to biking 40K so going up to 100K for Abu Dhabi will also be a challenge and is one I am looking forward to, especially as it goes around the Grand Prix track at Yas Marina Circuit,” he continued. “I want to start expanding my competitions to include other distances and starting next season in Abu Dhabi is part of that.”
The long-course event (3K swim, 200K bike, 20K run) has served as a season debut of sorts for several top professionals since the inaugural event in 2010. The warm conditions and $230,000 prize purse (each winner goes home with $50,000) are two reasons the event has drawn such a strong field over the years. Both of last year’s winners and current course-record holders, Denmark’s Rasmus Henning and Australia’s Nikki Butterfield, are not expected to return. Henning retired after this year’s Ironman World Championship and Butterfield is taking time away from professional racing for family reasons.
According to a press release, event organizer Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority is expecting at least 2,200 athletes to take part in the 2013 event. This year’s event will also feature a sprint-distance and kids race.
The 2012 event received a lot of attention for a bike crash between professional triathlete Andrew Starykowicz of the United States and volunteer Carly Williams of Great Britain, and the events that followed. It is unclear at this point if that incident will affect the size and depth of the pro field.
To learn more about the race and registration, visit Abudhabitriathlon.com.