The men’s event is a veritable Who’s Who of triathlon. Llanos, Dirk Bockel, Luke Bell, Rasmus Henning… If a barrel of oil costs over $100, Saturday’s men’s line-up is priceless [ouch!].
But the main story, the Duel in the Desert, centres on Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack and Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander. The two Aussies have four Kona titles between them, with Macca proudly wearing the current Hawaii crown.
“There’s more to this race than Macca and I,” said a suitably tanned and powerful-looking Alexander. “That’s why I’ve come – this is truly world-class opposition.”
This is the first time Crowie’s roamed the streets of Abu Dhabi, “though I’ve been to Dubai many times over.”
Macca, on the other hand, can claim to have local knowledge having raced in Abu Dhabi twice before. “That said, it was back in the nineties. But I’m unbeaten in the UAE – two out of two.”
Abu Dhabi’s changed beyond reason in the intervening years so that local course knowledge has inevitably been buried beneath a multitude of skyscrapers, hotels and relaid roads. But Macca displayed his trademark ebullience… before taking questions from the floor that focused on his return to Olympic-distance racing.
“It’s all happened very quickly,” said Macca. “I spoke with the federation, had a think and decided ‘why not’.” That was the short version – the long version will be uploaded later today, after we spoke to a typically candid McCormack post-conference.
As for this weekend’s race, Macca assured all it would be a “tough day”. Over 6hrs racing in the blistering heat and with potential headwinds driving off the desert… Yes, we reckon he’s absolutely correct.
More on Macca later today.
Note: if anyone can locate Stephen Bayliss’ bike, please email us. Last seen at Brussels airport! Currently has a groupset and pair of wheels. Frame sadly absent.
More on the event at www.abudhabitriathlon.com.