Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield brought an Abu Dhabi title back to the family (his wife, Nikki, won this race in 2012), while Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt continued her dominance of middle-distance racing with a repeat victory.
Butterfield exited the 3km swim at 37:49 with several athletes, including 2014 Ironman world champion and 2013 race winner Frederik Van Lierde (BEL), Sylvain Sudrie (FRA), Bert Jammaer (BEL), and Bas Diederen (NED). The lead pack of men rode much of the 200km bike together, leading to a big group starting the run together. Ultimately it was Butterfield’s 1:16:24 split over 20km of running that earned him the victory. He crossed the finish line in 6:43:01 for the win. “I still can’t believe it all,” Butterfield said at the finish line. “Freddie [van Lierde] was the strongest on the bike, he raced like a champ. I couldn’t really believe I was leading as I was coming into the finish and was constantly looking over my shoulder to see who was there.”
The Netherlands’ Bas Diederen finished second at 6:43:47. Sudrie claimed the final podium spot at 6:45:06. Van Lierde settled for fourth.
Great Britain’s Jodie Swallow, one of the best swimmers in the sport, was by far the strongest swimmer in the Abu Dhabi women’s field. Her 38:47 swim split gave her a three-minute advantage over Michelle Vesterby (DEN), a five-minute advantage over Hauschildt and a seven-minute advantage over Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED). Swallow, who is also a strong cyclist, carried that lead onto the 200km bike segment. She was riding in the front when she unfortunately took a wrong turn and rode what she says was about an extra 8km and lost her lead. With Swallow suddenly out of the picture, it became a race between Hauschildt, Van Vlerken and Vesterby. The three exited the bike within a minute of each other. Hauschildt’s 1:23:30 run split narrowly gave her the win in 7:24:50. “It is an amazing race and I’m stoked to come back and win this year,” Hauschildt said. “At 10k, me and Yvonne were running side by side but then I managed to create a bit of a gap and stay ahead. I never thought I’d actually win until I was holding the finish tape.”
Van Vlerken had the fastest run of the women, but had to settle for the runner-up spot 23 seconds later. Vesterby rounded out the top three at 7:31:39. Swallow finished fourth.
Abu Dhabi International Triathlon – Long Course
March 15, 2014 – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
3km swim, 200km bike, 20km run
1. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 6:43:01
2. Bas Diederen (NED) 6:43:47
3. Sylvain Sudrie (FRA) 6:45:06
4. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 6:46:12
5. Bert Jammaer (BEL) 6:50:48
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 7:24:50
2. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 7:25:13
3. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 7:31:39
4. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 7:45:35