Nikki Butterfield will come in as the defending champion after beating out a tough field last year.

After announcing late last year that she would step away from the sport to work on expanding her family, Australia’s Nikki Butterfield has changed her mind and will return to race the 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. She will come in as the defending champion after beating out a tough field last year.

“One of the great things about keeping a detailed training diary and then doing well is I can now look back on what I was doing at a similar time and see where I am each week compared to last year, what I was doing, how I felt, my times, pace, heart rates etc.,” Butterfield said in a press release.

“This year I’m trying to be more consistent in my training day-to-day, week-to-week and in my overall preparation. Last year I quite frequently went really hard in training, would have to take a few days easy or off, then go really hard again. Obviously it worked for Abu Dhabi, but by July I wanted to quit. This year I’m trying to be more progressive, we’ll see how it affects my result.”

Butterfield, a former pro cyclist, took the title in 2012 thanks in large part to her 4:55:47 200K bike split.

“The way the race panned out in 2012 and my edge over my competitors was simple, I used cycling tactics to work over the other girls on the bike,” Butterfield explained. “I actually tried to just ride away thinking in a non-drafting race that would be enough but as everyone knows, even when you sit at the legal distance, it’s easier for the person behind, so to just ride away you have to be a lot stronger.”

Butterfield will take on an elite field that includes Angela Neath, Caroline Steffen and Melissa Hauschildt on March 2. The unique course is made up of a 1.5K swim, a 200K bike and a 20K run.

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