Double defending champion Mario Mola and five-time World Champion Javier Gomez lead 60-strong men’s field.
Seven of the world's top 10 triathlon powerhouses commit to the Abu Dhabi ITU World Triathlon Series season-opener on the iconic Yas Island.
The titans of triathlon are preparing to contest one of the most spectacular races on the ITU World Triathlon Series calendar on Yas Island. Sixty of the sport's leading male athletes from 26 countries, including seven of the world's top 10, will unite on the start line on 4 March for a close-fought race.
The star-studded line-up will feature World Champions, Olympic medallists, experienced Olympians and world-record holders. The 2016 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi top four superstars – 2016 ITU World Champion, Spain's Mario Mola; compatriot and World Number three, Fernando Alarza; Portugal's Olympian Joao Silva and World Number five South Africa's Richard Murray – will return to compete for Abu Dhabi glory next month. The impressive line-up also stars South Africa's Olympic bronze medallist and World Number four Henri Schoeman and crowd favourite, five-time ITU World Champion and two-time Olympic medallist, Javier Gomez, who makes his return to ITU racing after a broken elbow ended his 2016 season early.
"Abu Dhabi didn’t quite fit with my schedule in 2016 and I was disappointed to miss it,” said Gomez. “I’m especially psyched to make my Abu Dhabi comeback on the new course on Yas Island. It is to my advantage that this year the course is new to all of us including World Champion, Mario Mola, so the gold medal is there for the taking!”
Widely regarded as a legend on the World Triathlon Series circuit Gomez will face fierce competition from compatriot and double defending champion, Mario Mola, who is intent on targeting a hat-trick in the UAE capital on 4 March. "Nothing challenges me as much as having a powerful line-up at a competition," said 26-year-old Mola. "I can’t wait to start my season toeing the line with Gomez, Alarza, Murray and Schoeman. It’s the first race of the season – anything can happen."
Joining the Spanish contingent is rising star on the circuit, Fernando Alarza, who clinched his first Series victory last year in Cape Town defeating the formidable Mario Mola and Jonny Brownlee. The 25-year-old had a fantastic 2016 season and returns with a determined eye on reaching the pinnacle of the Abu Dhabi podium.
The stellar men's field have recorded a combined total of 282 wins on the ITU World Triathlon Series circuit and shared more than 600 podium places between them – delivering one of the strongest Abu Dhabi line-ups in the history of the event for spectators on 4 March.
"Final preparations are gathering pace for next month's triathlon spectacle and the elite line-up will keep spectators on the edge of their seats for both the men and women's races. We encourage the local community to witness these superstars go head-to-head on 3 and 4 March on Yas Island" said His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, host of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi. "This is also an experience of a lifetime for age group participants who will have the chance to race on the very same course as the sport's leading personalities. The range of race distances suit all experience levels so we encourage aspiring triathletes to register before entries close on 23 February."
In addition to the stunning elite field, the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi has amateur race categories suited to all ages and abilities, and will welcome 3,500 amateur athletes to take part in the two-day event. The race categories, which can be completed as an individual or as part of a relay team, include:
- Sprint: 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
- Olympic: 1,500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run
- Maxi: 1,500m swim, 80km bike, 20km run
Overall female participation in the event has seen a steady increase since its debut in 2015, across both the professional and amateur disciplines. "It is encouraging to see the positive impact that such a world-class event has on interest in the sport and mass participation in the UAE and in the wider region," commented His Excellency Aref Al Awani. "We are always keen to bring international sporting events to Abu Dhabi that inspire men, women and youngsters alike. There are limited spaces left so I would urge aspiring triathletes to register now."
The local community can also make the weekend a family affair, with the return of the Junior Triathlon - a fun event aimed at encouraging youngsters to get active – which hosts race categories for children aged five years and over:
- Mini 1km: 1km run for 5 – 8 year olds
- Kids Duathlon: 3km cycle and a 500m run for 7 – 9 year olds and 10 – 11 year olds
- Junior Duathlon: 6km cycle and 1 km run for 12 – 13 year olds, and a 6km cycle and a 1.5 km run for 14 – 15 year olds
- Junior Triathlon Super Sprint: 400m swim, 10km cycle and a 2.5km run for 12 – 13 years and 14 – 15 years
- Schools Sprint Triathlon: 750m swim, 20km bike and a 5km run which can be completed as part of a team (age 12 years and up) or individually (age 16 years and up)
Online registrations for the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi are open to the public via the race website, AbuDhabi.Triathlon.org, and will close on 23 February. Starting from AED 450 for adults and AED 60 for children, race spots are quickly filling-up and organisers are urging those interested to sign-up soon before it reaches capacity.