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A world-class field of triathletes will kick off the 2018 ITU WTS season with a sprint-distance triathlon (750m swim, 20K bike, 10K run) this Friday, March 2 in Abu Dhabi. Both reigning world champions Flora Duffy (BER) and Mario Mola (ESP) will be on hand to start the campaigns for three-straight world titles. The race will also serve as a warm-up as sorts as athletes get ready for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifying period, which begins in May.
Read the preview from the ITU below:
Wearing the golden number one will be Duffy. After a stunning 2017 season that saw her on top of the WTS podium in six out of nine races, the Bermudian superstar is looking forward to make her debut on the iconic Yas Island course.
She will face tough competition in the season opener. Last year’s winner Andrea Hewitt (NZL), whose furious and emotional sprint a few meters before crossing the finish line was one of the most memorable moments of 2017, will also be competing.
Last year’s world championship runner-up Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) will also start 2018 in Abu Dhabi, the perfect scenario for her to get ready not only for the season, but also for the Commonwealth Games, set to start in the Gold Coast in April. With a proven record of being one of the strongest runners in the field, she will surely find herself among the leading pack when it comes to the final kilometers of running.
The Americans will again bring a strong lineup with Katie Zaferes, Kirsten Kasper, Summer Cook, Taylor Spivey, and Chelsea Burns all set to compete.
The star-studded line-up will feature double world champion and 2016 WTS Abu Dhabi winner, Mario Mola. He enjoys the fast and furious nature of the sprint races and will be looking to kick off his season with a victory.
One of his most direct rivals will be British two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Brownlee, who returns to the WTS competition after finishing last season in sixth place.
Mola and Brownlee will be joined by more world-class competition, including Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt and South African Richard Murray also on the start list.