Daniela Ryf became the inaugural Challenge Dubai champion on the first step to what she hopes will land her a $1,000,000 payday by the end of the year.
The Swiss triathlete must have performed a jig of delight when she woke to fiercely windy conditions in the Emirates’ state tailor-made for the all-round strength she’s honed under Australian coach Brett Sutton.
And she took full advantage by powering through to the fastest bike split (2:18) and run (1:17) to win by over four minutes in 4:05:01 from Canadian Heather Wurtele and Denmark’s Challenge Bahrain champion Helle Frederiksen.
Ryf, 27, the reigning Ironman 70.3 champion will now prioritise Challenge Oman in the summer and if successful Bahrain in December as she chases the biggest prize purse ever staked in the sport.
“I’ll discuss it with my coach, he’s kind of the boss,” she said. “The priority is Kona but the Triple Crown is a great opportunity and I’ve put down a great platform. I hope to go to Oman and step up another level.”
“It was really hard and choppy, but I had a fantastic swim, and then on the bike I was really struggling at the start,” she continued. “I couldn’t keep pace and had to drop, but after about 40km I started to feel better. In the run, I knew if I could keep the speed I’d be ok.”
Jodie Swallow was the highest-placed British woman in fourth after emerging second from the water 78secs behind the express-paced US star Lauren Brandon. After a strong bike leg in 2:22 Swallow just couldn’t hold off the charging Wurtele or Frederiksen on the beach-side run.
“I’m not really happy, I wanted a podium, but you can only do your best,” she said. “There was a bit of drafting going on but the right girl won. I didn’t know there was anyone in front coming out of the swim. It was tough and I couldn’t see anything because of the waves. I just felt flat on the run. What do I put that down to? It’s February.”
Leanda Cave (4:25) was also in the prize money in eighth, with Alice Hector (4:34) rounding out the British contingent in 13th.