He’s back! Ali Brownlee from Great Britain has put last year’s hip problems behind him and has set down his intent for the season with a masterclass at Ironman 70.3 Dubai today.
In 2016, he hinted at what he was capable of with two wins at middle-distance racing (including an emphatic win at 70.3 St. George) before hip surgery curtailed his hopes of lifting the Ironman 70.3 World champ title. Could 2018 be his year?
The signs are there that he could. Conditions in the United Arab Emirates were good, sunny and warm but not blustery like previous years.
Finishing the one-lap swim in the Arabian Gulf in the lead side-by-side with Johann Ackermann, in a time of 22:36, Brownlee set out on the 90km bike course at a blistering pace and dominated from the start. By 22km he had over a minute lead over Sven Riederer in second place, which he had extended to almost 3mins by 45km.
His overall winning time was 3:35:32, with a 6:35 minute margin over Riederer who finished second.
“It did go over smoothly," says Brownlee. "Didn’t feel great on the swim, had a couple of bad patches on the bike but on the run I just felt great, I was in control and I actually really enjoyed the last 10-18K. I was just kind of soaking it in, enjoying the cheers. Obviously it’s so fantastic to be back after too much time spent at the gym the past six months,” says Ali. What will the rest of the season hold for him?
The Ironman 70.3 Dubai is first race of the Nasser Bin Hamad Triple Crown series, with the other two being Ironman 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. If an athlete wins all three races they will take home $1,000,000 in prize money - could Ali Brownlee win it in 2018?
The top 10 in Dubai
1. 3:35:30 Alistair Brownlee
2. 3:42:05 Sven Riederer
3. 3:42:42 Ruedi Wild
4. 3:43:38 Maurice Clavel
5. 3:44:19 Nicholas Kastelein
6. 3:45:35 Ilia Prasolov
7. 3:45:41 Jesper Svensson
8. 3:47:08 Ronnie Schildknecht
9. 3:47:10 Bertrand Billard
10. 3:47:53 Kevin Maurel