Jonathan’s older brother Alistair has been forced to pull out with an ankle injury, while top British women Non Stanford (2013 world champion) and Helen Jenkins (2011 world champ) will give Abu Dhabi and the next two rounds in Auckland and Australia’s Gold Coast a miss in order to continue their winter training, according to British Triathlon.
The men’s race will include reigning WTS champ Javier Gomez and his Spanish compatriot Mario Mola, while other British men on the start line include Adam Bowden, Mark Buckingham and Gordon Benson. Other podium threats include Richard Murray (RSA), João Pereira (POR) and Sven Riederer (SUI). Start list here.
“Winter training has been great and I’m looking forward to racing this weekend. It’s a sprint race so anything can happen but I know my 5km running speed is good,” said Jonny Brownlee. “It’s a shame for Alistair that he’s not racing but it’s a big year for us all with Olympic qualification and it’s still very early in the year at the moment.”
The women’s race will see Britain’s Commonwealth Games medal winner Vicky Holland line up alongside 2014 WTS champ Gwen Jorgensen (USA), two-time World Champion Emma Moffatt (AUS) and fellow Brits Lucy Hall, Emma Pallant and Heather Sellars. Other top women include Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) and Anne Haug (GER). Start list here.
Stimpson, who has been based in San Diego in the lead up to this event, added: “It’s good to be getting the season underway. This is a sprint race so it’s a good chance to see where I’m at before the next two races in Auckland and the Gold Coast.”
The action gets underway at 11am UK time (3pm local time) with the elite women’s race, followed by the elite men’s race at 1pm UK time (5pm local time). Full coverage is available live on triathlonlive.tv (20% discount here), and the BBC will show the men’s race live on the Red Button Service. Disappointingly, the BBC will only show the women’s race live on the BBC Sport website, along with a highlights package of both races on BBC2 on Monday 9 March at 2.45pm.
In order to challenge for ITU world titles, athletes need to complete five of the nine rounds of this year’s World Triathlon Series, plus the Grand Final in Chicago in September. The Series will visit five continents, with Auckland up next on 29 March – full schedule here.
We’ll be covering all the action live on our Twitter feed here, and will have race reports right here on the website – join us!
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Who do you think will win this year’s WTS Abu Dhabi? Let us know in the comments!