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Tue 19th Nov 2019
The Abu Dhabi report
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Sunday 14th March 2010

Tags  Abu Dhbai  |  ADIT  |  Eneko Llanos  |  Fraser Cartmell  |  Julie Dibens  |  Leanda Cave  |  Rasmus Henning  |  Virginia Berasategui

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And so the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Triathlon is now done, and the awards issued.

It's fair to say that the event succeeded in gaining more pre-race publicity and analysis than any other debut event I can remember - and for good reason too. A stacked field, arguably the best for many years outside of Kona, a pro prize purse of $230,000 and a new distance of 3k / 200k / 20k attracted a bucket load of pro's, amateurs and media to the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

And the winners were... not the 'bikers' whom many predicted, but actually the reigning, and multiple XTERRA World Champions Eneko Llanos (ESP) and Julie Dibens (GBR). Long bike/short run or not, it was the all-round triathletes that won the day.

Here's how the race panned out, watched from the Emirates Palace beach and the relative comfort of the media bus, including the stunning surrounds of the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit which riders completed twice on the 200k bike course.

The Swim

For the ladies, seeing Lucie Zelenkova (CZE), Julie Dibens and Leanda Cave exiting the buoyant, calm waters of the Emirates Palace beach was no surprise. They were joined by Tereza Macel (CZE) and Rachel Joyce. Unfortunately it then all went wrong for the new Team Abu Dhabi team member, as a fall - we think - prior to mounting the bike at T1 resulted in a horribly cut foot and exit from the race. We've seen the pictures, and they aren't pretty, and we understand Rachel had surgery later in the day. Recover well Rachel.

Abu Dhabi swim at Emirates Palace

For the men, the conditions and simple course were never likely to cause major problems, and Fraser Cartmell was able to lead out a large group which included fellow Brits Dann Brook and Phil Graves, plus pre-race favourites Rasmus Henning (DEN) and Eneko Llanos (ESP). 17 swimmers hit the beach within 20 seconds, Phil Graves later describing the swim as "one of the easiest I've ever had in triathlon - apart from the helicopter causing some interesting waves! "

The Bike

The bike started with a little hiccup, as the lead group took something of 'detour', losing a minute or so as they re-grouped and got back on to course, the main beneficiary being Jordan Rapp who was up with the leaders early than expected.

By the time the leaders reached the Yas Formula 1 circuit for the first time - clearly the iconic element of the course - there was a lead 'group' of around 20 athletes, and it wasn't until the second half of the ride, after attacks from several riders that this really split. Björn Andersson put in a big effort after exiting the F1 circuit for the second time, ultimately to no avail, and soon after that dropped back swiftly through the field. Frederik van Lierde (BEL) was first into T2, less than a minute ahead of a chase group headed by Phil Graves, Rasmus Henning, Fraser Cartmell, Eneko Llanos and Dirk Bockel.

Phil Graves and Rasmus Henning chase Frerik van Lierde into T2

For the ladies - it was all Dibens! By the F1 circuit she had 90 seconds on Leanda, and this soon increased to three minutes. Leanda was riding strong and looking great - but Dibens was on fire. And then - puncture! After riding on a flat, and eventually securing a wheel change, Dibens had now been passed, and set to work again, and akin to Chrissie in Kona 08, se did just that. Behind Leanda by over a minute leaving the F1 circuit for the second time, by T2 that had been reversed to more than three minutes advantage over a still strong Cave. Virginia Berasategui (ESP) followed another four minutes later, but nobody else was even close. This was a Dibens race to lose.

Phil Graves at Yas Marina circuit

Yas Marina F1 Circuit - stunning

The Run

Phil looked good at the start of the run - though it didn't last, despite a good first 5km - and Llanos, Bockel and Henning soon hit the front. Still not 21, Phil's day will come as the years pass and the miles are added to his running legs. Cartmell however was having a great day, and hanging close to the leaders. Llanos pulled a small gap, and held it to the finish to become the first winner of the Abu Dhabi $50,000 first prize. Kona 7th place finisher Bockel got the better of Rasmus Henning, my pre-race pick, to take the second spot on the podium, in a battle of former ITU racers, and Cartmell followed Henning across the line, just five seconds later to secure $10,000 and one of his best career results. I'd seen Fraser win at Ironman 70.3 South Africa early in the year, on a day which was clearly hard work - but this performance was in a different league to that, and not surprisingly, a very chuffed Cartmell was "over the moon" after crossing the line. This was a stacked field, on a super hot day and the Scot had mixed it with the best in the sport. A great debut for his new Trek / K-Swiss team.

Julie Dibens owned this race

XTERRA World Champ and Ironman 70.3 World Champion Dibens clearly had no intention of giving the race away on the run, and never looked like anything else but taking home the big cheque, and actually extended her lead slightly to finish almost four minutes clear of Leanda on the Abu Dhabi Corniche finish line. A class performance, form a class athlete - Dibens was in a league of her own on this day.

Behind, Leanda Cave made it a Brit one-two with another solid run to back up her swim-bike efforts while the tough Virginia Berasetegui (ESP), who seemed to be held together by various strappings after a major bike smash just a couple of weeks ago, proved that while she may be small in stature she is one tough lady, and secured an impressive third place finish and $15,000 for her efforts - which left her in some pain and distress shortly after crossing the line.

To the winners go the spoils...

Pos Men Women
1st Eneko Llanos (ESP) 6:34:47 $50,000 Julie Dibens (GBR) 7:08:25 $50,000
2nd Dirk Bockel (LUX) 6:35:30 $20,000 Leanda Cave (GBR) 7:12:23 $20,000
3rd Rasmus Henning (DEN) 6:36:07 $15,000 Virginia Berasategui (ESP) 7:18:23 $15,000
4th Fraser Cartmell (GBR/SCO) 6:36:12 $10,000 Caroline Steffen (SUI) 7:21:01 $10,000
5th Frederk van Lierde (BEL) 6:36:31 $7,500 Carrie Lester (AUS) 7:23:04 $7,500

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