WTS Abu Dhabi: who will be victorious in 2017?
On 3 March the 2017 ITU WTS series kicks off in Abu Dhabi with some of the world’s best triathletes lining up, all hoping to earn the first WTS points of the year
The 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series starts this weekend in Abu Dhabi, with the women racing tomorrow morning (UK time) Friday 3 March, followed by the men on Saturday morning (UK time).
Like last year Abu Dhabi will be a standard-distance event, but debuting a brand new course that will stretch over the famous Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix course.
Commonwealth Games gold medallist Jodie Stimpson (GBR) will be returning to defend her Abu Dhabi title, while ITU World Champion and Abu Dhabi defending champion Mario Mola (ESP) will be hoping for his third win here.
Sadly reigning women’s ITU World Champion Flora Duffy has delayed her return but other top names taking on Stimpson include the diminutive Ai Ueda from Japan, who finished third in the 2016 series, Katie Zaferes (USA) and Andrea Hewitt (NZL).
Two other names to look out for are rising stars Charlotte McShane from Australia and Rachel Klamer from The Netherlands, both of whom made a podium finish for the first time last year. Also flying the flag for Britain is India Lee
However the series will be missing Olympic champ Gwen Jorgensen and Helen Jenkins, due to them both deciding to start families. The full women's start list can be seen here
In the men's Mola will face fellow Spaniard five-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez, who is back, after injury ruled him out of Rio and the latter half of the 2016 season, and Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman (RSA).
Mola will also be racing his training partner South African Richard Murray, who had two podium finishes in 2016, and his Rio teammate Fernando Alarza, who finished on three podiums last year, his best ITU season to date.
Flying the flag for Britain will be Adam Bowden, Tom Bishop, Grant Sheldon and Marc Austin. The full men's start list can be seen here
In a new move viewers will now be able to identify the top eight ranked triathletes in the swim, as each of these athletes will wear a different coloured swim cap, starting with gold, silver and bronze for the top three.
If you have bought a pass you can watch the races live at triathlonlive.tv (passes can also be bought here). We will also be tweetling all the action as it happens so follow us @220Triathlon
Elite Women: Friday 3 March at 15:55pm UTC/ 11:55am UK time
Elite Men: Saturday 4 March at 15:55pm UTC/11:55am UK time