Ryf and Gomez highlight stacked fields

Javier Gomez makes his comeback to racing, while Daniela Ryf looks to continue her dominance in Dubai.

| January 20, 2017 | NEWS

Photo >Nils Nilsen / Island House Triathlon

After being forced to miss the Olympics last year because of a broken elbow, Spain's Javier Gomez is back racing this weekend at Ironman 70.3 Dubai. The 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2014 Ironman 70.3 world champion is facing a tough test in his return to long distance racing, though, as a stacked men's field is on hand to compete for the men's title.

The women's field is highlighted by two-time Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf (SUI), who won in Dubai last year, as she did a year earlier when the event was part of the Challenge series.

Daniela Ryf runs to the win last year.

Daniela Ryf runs to the win last year.

Photo >Michael Rauschendorfer / triaphoto.com

Women's field

Ryf is in for a good battle in the women's race, too. Last year's fifth-place Kona finisher, Kaisa Lehtonen (FIN) has just started working with super-coach Siri Lindley, so she'll no-doubt be keen to start off the new relationship with a top performance.

Another Lindley athlete, Yvonne van Vlerken, had a strong duathlon tune-up performance at Club La Santa in Lanzarote last month, so she'll be another woman to watch on the weekend. Caroline Steffen, another super-strong Swiss athlete, has been focussed on 70.3 racing over the last 15 months, so look for her to be a factor in the race, too. She was second to Ryf in last year's race. The ever-consistent Linsey Corbin is on hand, too.

Here's some not-so-great news for the rest of the women trying to beat Ryf this weekend - Great Britain's Lucy Charles, a former national-team open water swimmer, will likely hammer through the swim, providing some company for Ryf (or giving her some feet to chase) at the front of the swim pack.

Gunning after Gomez

While Gomez, if he's healthy, should be considered the favorite in Dubai, the field assembled to take him on makes that "favorite" moniker precarious at best. After spending much of 2016 dealing with illness, Michael Raelert (GER) has been steadily improving over the last few months and is no-doubt eager to take another major title. He's a two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion and, when he's on, can run with the best. Another former 70.3 world champ, Terenzo Bozzone (NZL) is coming off an incredible Ironman Western Australia/ Ironman 70.3 Bahrain double (the races were just six days apart) and is obviously in amazing race shape.

Josh Amberger (AUS) finished second to Jan Frodeno in Dubai last year and would no-doubt love to move one step up the podium. Tim O'Donnell (USA) is a former ITU type who has third- and sixth-place Kona finishes to his credit, so he's another man with the credentials to compete for the win. Tyler Butterfield (BER) is another ITU type who finished fifth in Kona in 2015, too. 

Suffice it to say that more than a few of the 40-man pro field will start this weekend's race feeling like they're going after the win.

You can check out the entire pro field here.