Belgium’s Frederik Van Lierde and Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt turned in the top early-season performances against tough fields at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon on Saturday.
The Men’s Race
Great Britain’s Daniel Halksworth led the men onto the bike leg, just three seconds ahead of Fraser Cartmell (GBR) and six seconds ahead of Van Lierde.
Van Lierde stayed with the front pack throughout the bike before earning a 30-second lead over Spain’s Eneko Llanos and a one-minute lead over Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield coming out of T2. He held strong from there, crossing the finish line to earn his second victory at this race. Llanos finished second, with Butterfield claiming third.
“I felt really strong from the beginning,” Van Lierde said in a post-race release. “I pushed the pace early, it was a risk, but I told myself it was no problem. I felt strong, really strong, but had to be patient on the bike, as everyone is strong at first. Not everyone comes to the front and leads, I took my responsibility with long stretches at the front, and the last 30 kilometers I put the hammer down.”
The Women’s Race
Canada’s Tenille Hoogland was the first to take the lead for the women, making it to T1 in a time of 38:14, just six seconds in front of the chase pack of Michelle Vesterby (DEN), Caroline Steffen Steffen (SUI), Svetlana Blazevic (UAE) and Hauschildt.
Steffen took control on the bike, with Hauschildt working hard to keep up. When bike turned to run, Steffen led into T2 with Hauschildt about a minute back. Hauschildt quickly ran Steffen down to earn her first victory at this race. Steffen earned second position, with Versterby running her way to third.
“It was the toughest race I have ever done, during the run my quads were seizing up; literally in the first five kilometers I couldn’t even move them,” Hauschildt said after the race. “I wanted it so much; so I turned myself inside out to catch Caroline on the bike. I first caught her at 80K, I was giving it everything, then I lost her again, before catching up again at 185K. I then started cramping, so lost her again, before catching up in the run.”
“Every time I rounded a corner in the run, I had to look behind me to see if she was there,” she continued. “This was my ‘A’ race, this is what I really wanted, so yeah I’m stoked. I wanted to win Abu Dhabi badly.”
Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee competed in the shorter 1.5K swim/100K bike/10K run race and easily took the victory and established a new course record.
“It is a good race to do for an introduction to longer distances and I would like to do more, but right now my focus us is on the ITU circuit,” Brownlee said. “Thanks so much for all the support, it was fantastic, and well done to all those that raced, I hope you all do it again!”
The race saw several DNFs with two-time Ironman world champion Chris McCormack (AUS), 2012 Abu Dhabi winner Nikki Butterfield (AUS) and Andi Boecherer (GER) all pulling out before reaching the finish line.
Abu Dhabi International Triathlon
Top 10 Men
1. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 6:41:01
2. Eneko Llanos (ESP) 6:45:02
3. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 6:47:49
4. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 6:48:13
5. Sudrie Sylvain (FRA) 6:49:27
6. David Dellow (AUS) 6:55:48
7. Per Bittner (GER) 6:58:57
8. Paul Amey (GBR) 7:06:25
9. Philip Graves (GBR) 7:08:38
10. Daniel Halksworth (GBR) 7:10:17
Top 10 Women
1. Melissa Hauschildt (AUS) 7:20:29
2. Caroline Steffen (SUI) 7:23:53
3. Michelle Vesterby (DEN) 7:27:52
4. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 7:30:51
5. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 7:31:27
6. Diana Riesler (GER) 7:36:43
7. Rachel McBride (CAN) 7:38:24
8. Tenille Hoogland (CAN) 7:48:49
9. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 7:59:50
10. Tiina Boman (FIN) 8:09:34