Gomez, Mola and Murray showdown in Abu Dhabi

The WTS series opens tomorrow with an interesting showdown in the men's race and a wide-open women's event.

| March 1, 2017 | NEWS

Weltmeister Mario Mola und Herausforderer Javier Gómez

Weltmeister Mario Mola und Herausforderer Javier Gómez

Photo >Delly Carr / triathlon.org

With files from Fabian Fiedler

The first two years after the Olympics are often characterized by major upheavals in the short-distance triathlon world and this year is no exception. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) is pregnant and will probably not compete in this season, while multiple world champion Javier Gomez (ESP) and double Olympic gold medlaist Alistair Brownlee (GBR) are looking to try longer distances throughout the year. While the women's field in Abu Dhabi appears to be seeing a big "changing of the guard," the men's field has many familiar faces.

Brownlees missing, Gomez returns

Mario Mola (ESP) begins the season in the hunt for the points he'll need to defend his world title. His training partner, Richard Murray (RSA), is likely to be his main competition. Both, though, are likely to trail after the swim, something that Gomez (who is no-doubt happy he's starting back to the WTS series over the Olympic distance - he's not a fan of sprint-distance racing) will try to take advantage of. Gomez will likely be joined in the front bike group by equally strong swim/ runners Vincent Luis (FRA) and Henri Schoeman (RSA). Others likely to join the Gomez express are Pierre Le Corre and Aurelien Raphael (both FRA), while other strong runners likely to be in the mix are Joao Pereira (POR) and Crisanto Grajales (MEX). Other serious contenders to watch for include Fernando Alarza (ESP) and Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR).



Duffy passes

Defending ITU world champion Flora Duffy from Bermuda has decided to skip the World Cup in Abu Dhabi. With the previous WTS world champ (Jorgensen) out, too, other athletes will be the focus early in the season. Japan's Ai Ueda will be in the running, but Katie Zaferes and Sarah True (USA) have both enjoyed bigger wins than Ueda and arrive as the favorites. Others to watch for, though, include Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Jodie Stimpson (GBR), Charlotte McShane (AUS), Emmie Charayron (FRA) and Rachel Klamer (NED). There are also a number of up and coming Americans to watch for including Summer Cook, Renee Tomlin and Kirsten Kasper, who could all fight for podium placings.