Macca, Llanos and Stoltz to take on Abu Dhabi

Stellar names to race tri’s richest race in March, including Ali Brownlee in the 111.5km event

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The titans of male triathlon have thrown the gauntlet down for next month’s US$230,000 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon as the world’s best are ready to contest one of the sport’s richest prizes against the event’s strongest ever field.

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Returning champions – Eneko Llanos and Frederik Van Lierde – will line up against triathlon powerhouses, Conrad ‘The Caveman’ Stoltz, Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack and Bryan Rhodes – who have dominated the sport over the last decade – as they vie for the coveted Abu Dhabi crown on 2 March.

Hoping to score big on his Abu Dhabi debut, South African stalwart Stoltz has an international reputation as one of the world’s most multifaceted endurance athletes. With a professional career spanning over 20 years, Stoltz remains a force to be reckoned with on the elite circuit.

Last year alone, the 39-year old raced 18 times, winning two world titles (ITU Cross Tri), and his tenth Xterra USA Series title. With 50 Xterra career wins, 10 Xterra series USA titles and four Xterra World Champion nods – he will be one of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) event’s dark horses.

“‘Pure Power’ and ‘Caveman’ goes together like ‘desert’ and ‘sand’! The Abu Dhabi triathlon is a new challenge for me. I like the long bike leg and shorter run. It will be interesting for me to see what I am capable of,” said Stoltz

Chris ‘Macca’ McCormack needs no introduction. The Aussie holds legendary status having won the Ironman World Championships twice and is the only man to hold Olympic distance ITU and ITU World Cup Series wins at the same time.

The heat got the better of him in 2011, forcing his early race retirement, so the 39-year-old from Sydney has been training hard in the winter break.

“My last outing in Abu Dhabi was not quite what I was hoping for and last year this event clashed with the Olympic trials for me so I am now returning this year for another go at this distance. As I have aged in this sport I look for events that are both challenging and interesting and also offer unique experience. Abu Dhabi delivers all of this for me,” said the ITU Long Course World Champion.

Triple Abu Dhabi top-10 finisher and 2010 champion, Spain’s Eneko Llanos, will draw on his expansive local knowledge to become the first male challenger to lift the Abu Dhabi trophy twice.

“It is good to know the race so well and to know the feeling of winning such an important race because you then want to have that feeling again – I am coming back in 2013 because I want to win this race again.”

Rounding out the fearsome five, 2011 champion Van Lierde will draw on his hard-earned Abu Dhabi experience to topple his rivals.

“It’s great to come back to a race that you know for sure you can win. I know that my win in 2011 came from the experience I gained in 2010. The experience to win it, what happened on that day, how the race went, the conditions, circuit… you can’t buy or read that somewhere,” said the Belgian, who recently took third at the 2012 Ironman World Championships.

Other athletes returning to the pro field are Sylvain Sudrie of France who finished fifth in 2011 and Andi Boecherer from Germany who finished tenth last year. They join Britain’s gold-medal winning Olympic triathlete, Alistair Brownlee, who heads up the 111.5kms ‘Short’ course line up. More returning athletes and new names to the international circuit will be announced in the coming weeks. 

ADIT offers three course distances; the 223km ‘long course’ (3km swim, a 200km cycle and 20km run), the half-length ‘short’ course (1.5km swim, a 100km cycle and a 10 km run) and the sprint course (750m swim, a 50km bike and 5km run). Both the ‘short’ and the ‘sprint’ can be run as a team relay.

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Organisers have frozen athlete registration fees for the fourth year in a row. Athletes interested in entering should visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com.