Terenzo Bozzone may have the pedigree but was still a surprise winner of the first Challenge Dubai.
The New Zealander was 2008 World Ironman 70.3 champion and has shown he can compete with the world’s best on many occasions, but given the level of talent in such a packed field in the Middle East, few touted his potential for victory here.
Instead, all eyes were on Spain’s four-time ITU world champion Javier Gomez, butas he wilted on the bike and dropped out on the run, it was Bozzone that stayed strong to win in a dominating 3hrs 41mins 45secs, just over a minute from Germany’s Michael Raelert.
There was shock in third place too, with Switzerland’s Manuel Kung rounding out the podium 2mins 50s behind Raelert.
The windy early morning conditions meant the race start was delayed for five minutes and the swim course revised due to strong currents. When they did get going it was American Andy Potts and 2012 Ironman champion Pete Jacobs who led a front pack from the swim that included Gomez and Britain’s Dan Halksworth and David McNamee.
Denmark’s Martin Jensen was soon to the fore on the bike, the 2013 Ironman Japan champion looking to put 18 months of injury behind him as he posted a 2:02 split. But that was matched by Kiwi Bozzone, who knew the most likely danger was Challenge Bahrain champion Raelert, alighting in T2 1min 49sec back, with the rest of the field splintered to pieces.
Although Raelert clawed 45secs back over the half-marathon, it was never enough to threaten Bozzone, who was disbelieving in crossing the line for the first victory in what he hopes to be a $1,000,000 Triple Crown win. With Challenge Oman and Bahrain to follow, watch this space to see how it develops.