We look back at an exciting weekend of racing in the United Arab Emirates and the opening of the WTS season.
March 8, 2017 | RACES|
It was the opening race of the 2017 WTS season. As we’re used to seeing the year after an Olympics, there were some new faces in the mix, but it was many of the familiar ones who provided some of the most inspiring performances last weekend.
- Javier Gomez is back … and very motivated. Missing the Olympics in Rio was no-doubt devastating for the 2012 silver medalist, but Javier Gomez proved exactly why he is considered amongst the greatest triathletes ever. A dominating run performance at Ironman 70.3 Dubai puts Gomez in the hunt for the million-dollar prize the comes with taking the Nasser Bin Hamad Triple Crown. Another dominating run after a “poor” swim (must be nice to come out of the water 10-seconds behind the leaders and be able to call it a “poor” swim) proved that Gomez is just that good no matter what the distance. It’s going to be fun to watch what the Spaniard does in 2017.
- Emotional racing is very, very powerful. A little over a year after losing her fiancé Laurent Vidal (the two-time Olympian passed due to a cardiac arrest in November, 2015), Andrea Hewitt took an incredibly exciting, and emotional win. “Last year the number one spot was dedicated to Laurent and this year I am dedicating to Laurent,” she said. “I raced two weeks ago, my race of this year in Tiga and I won. So I knew I was coming here really fit. Laurent always told me that I had everything, I had the dedication, I had the integrity, I had talent and he told me the one thing I was missing was emotion and I didn’t show it a lot of the time.” She wasn’t the only one emotional about her big win on the weekend.
- One class act. After a challenging 2016 that saw her miss the Olympics despite having won in Abu Dhabi and Mooloolaba – followed by a poor race at the Gold Coast Olympic qualifier, Jodie Stimpson was gracious in defeat despite coming oh-so-close to defending her title. “Coming on that straight, Andrea was the stronger one, I was stronger on the hills,” Stimpson said after the race. “To be honest, I’m just ecstatic me and Andrea got on the podium. The amount of work we did all day, if I was going to lose to a sprint finish, I’m glad it was Andrea today.”
- Ones to watch. Austria’s Sara Vilic might not have been able to kick with Hewitt and Stimpson, but her gutsy run performance signalled that she is one to watch in the future. Her first WTS podium finish was as much a surprise to her as it was everyone else, but came thanks to lots of hard work. “I can’t believe it, it’s crazy,” she said. “It’s such a nice feeling, I think I’m going to realize it tomorrow. I was training so hard and I’m so happy that it paid off now.”
On the men’s side, Tom Bishop became the sixth Brit to claim a WTS podium finish. “I can’t believe it, to be honest,” he said. “I had a plan, I wanted to swim as best as I could, save as much energy on the bike. I wasn’t really sure how it was going to go because it was the first race of the season. I had a feeling that it might all come together when I found myself in the front group and there was a gap so I knew I had to work as hard as I could.”
- He’s back, too. After a stellar performance at the Rio test event in 2015 (second to Gomez), Vincent Luis was considered amongst the favorites to medal at the Olympics last year. Instead he was sidelined with injury. “It is awesome because I am back after 15 months outside of the WTS and it has been months since my last triathlon, so it is good,” Luis said. “I have some nerve problems so that has taken me out a lot. But it is good to be back on the WTS, it is good to see Gomez back and see him winning again and I am just really happy to be back on the podium again.”