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The 2016 ITU World Triathlon Series Abu Dhabi race will be headquartered at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club on the breakwater opposite the Abu Dhabi Corniche, where a spectator-friendly environment including a 1,000-seater grandstand, a bike park, a “Friends and Family” area, and refreshment kiosks will be offered. The elite event will start in front of the Volvo Ocean Race yacht pontoons with the top men and women on the ITU World Series rankings competing for line honors in the opening event of the 2016 season. Over the weekend, there are aquathlon, sprint, relay, standard and maxi distance events on offer to provide everyone with the perfect challenge. Here’s a look at three story lines to watch for in the elite action.
Katie Zaferes Looking For First WTS Win
Team USA would certainly win the strength-in-depth award for 2015. They completed podium sweeps in both Gold Coast and London proving that their talent is significantly more than Jorgensen alone. They filled more than half of the podium positions across the season, earning 16 of the 30 medals available from the 10 WTS events held last year, with Sarah True (three) and Katie Zaferes (six) regular visitors to the podium. While Zaferes made the podium six times from eight starts in WTS races last year, she has yet has not secured her place for Rio. She’ll be looking for a solid start toward getting that Olympic berth with her first WTS win in Abu Dhabi.
Women’s Olympic Podium Meets Again
For the first time in over three years, the women’s 2012 London Olympic podium will meet again in a race. Reigning Olympic gold medalist Nicola Spirig (SUI) is making her first season WTS appearance this weekend. The Baku European Games champion, she has already qualified for her fourth Olympic Games. However, her podium mates in London have yet to seal their fate. Olympic silver medalist Lisa Norden (SWE) lines up with the Olympics on her mind, in the hunt for important Olympic qualification points after two years of injury. Similarly, after battling illness much of the last Olympic quad, Olympic bronze medalist Erin Densham returns with eyes to Rio.
Training Partners Go To Battle
Sitting at the top of the list is the Abu Dhabi reigning champion Mario Mola (ESP). While last year the course was positioned as a sprint distance, Mola charmed his way to a gold medal when he broke away from a small three-man pack in the final kilometers. In his final push, he recorded the fastest 5km run split in the history of the WTS, a record he maintained until he beat it himself later that year. He finished second overall in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings. Training partner South Africa’s Richard Murray had a phenomenal 2015 season and will most definitely continue his streak. Ranked fourth overall last year, he earned the bronze medal in Abu Dhabi last season. Which one will dominate in Abu Dhabi?