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New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone and Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf earned the victories at Friday’s inaugural Challenge Dubai triathlon. They will each take home $65,000 of a total $300,000 prize purse, and more significantly are the only two athletes eligible for the $1 million bonus up for grabs if any athlete can win all three races in the Triple Crown Series.
The day featured its fair share of surprises. Athletes battled brutally windy conditions, a pre-race favorite dropped out and the men’s final results were shuffled after five athletes were penalized for unintentionally not following the course.
American Andy Potts led the men out of the water in 22:19, with Javier Gomez (ESP), Pete Jacobs (AUS), Manuel Küng (SUI), Michael Raelert (GER) and Rasmus Petraeus (DEN) coming into transition within a few seconds of Potts, making for an exciting start to the day.
In his first race in 18 months, Denmark’s Martin Jensen wasted no time finding his way to the front of the race. The super biker thrived in the blustery conditions and broke away from the rest of the field.
Behind Jensen, the conditions were taking a toll on the field and the biggest casualty was reigning ITU and Ironman 70.3 world champion Gomez, who withdrew after not feeling well on the bike. Jensen continued to look strong out front, but it was Bozzone who was quietly making his move.
Jensen’s efforts ultimately proved to be too much and he was overtaken by Bozzone and Küng before the end of the bike ride. Bozzone, who won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in 2008, cruised into T2 on the heels of a field-leading 2:02:39 bike split.
Would he be able to hold off a fast-running Raelert, who came into T2 about two minutes down? The answer was yes. Bozzone paired his strong bike with a strong run and was the first across the finish line. Raelert was second over the finish, with Küng crossing in third in what would have been the best performance of his career.
Ultimately the official results were dramatically different as Bozzone, Raelert, Küng and two others were penalized four minutes for, according to the press release from Challenge Dubai, “unintentionally not following the correct course.” Despite the penalty, Bozzone maintained his victory, while Tim Reed (AUS) was propelled to second position. Raelert dropped down to third.
American Lauren Brandon was the early leader in the women’s race, after making the best of the tough and choppy swim conditions to exit the water with more than a minute lead over some top-notch swimmers, including Jodie Swallow (GBR), Alicia Kaye (USA), Ryf, Meredith Kessler (USA), Helle Frederiksen (DEN) and Annabel Luxford (AUS).
Brandon rode strongly through the early stages of the bike, extending her lead to two minutes over Kaye, Swallow, Ryf and Kessler.
At the 72K mark, Ryf decided it was go-time and powered her way to the lead, putting 90 seconds into Swallow and nearly two minutes into Wurtele. Behind them, Frederiksen, Kaye and Luxford were losing time to the front group.
“I actually had some problems with my gears, I was stuck in fifth gear. If there was a bump I could switch so that was a bit of a problem,” said Rfy.
As Ryf exited transition she had built nearly a three-minute lead to Swallow, with Wurtele coming into T2 10 seconds back of Swallow.
Ryf’s pre race talk of not being in top shape was soon put to rest as she strode out on the run, recording the fastest run split, and earning the win and a check for $65,000.
Wurtele ran herself into second place today, with Frederiksen overtaking Swallow to round out the podium.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run
1. Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) 3:45:45
2. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:46:35
3. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:46:49
4. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 3:47:13
5. Martin Jensen (DEN) 3:47:19
1. Daniela Ryf (SUI) 4:05:01
2. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:09:21
3. Helle Frederiksen (DEN) 4:11:43
4. Jodie Swallow (GBR) 4:13:35
5. Annabel Luxford (AUS) 4:15:55
*Official results according to press release from Challenge Dubai.