Ironman 70.3 Dubai will offer race-starved European pros the chance to see how all their solo training under COVID conditions will translate to real-world competition.
The UAE has a decades-long triathlon history, with races across the Emirates drawing top pro fields thanks to beautiful locations, perfect race conditions and renowned hospitality.
As such, there’s a strong group of athletes making the trip to the dunes, with all eyes on four-time Ironman World Champion Daniela Ryf, who’s top of the PTO rankings and likely to lead Team Europe in the Collins Cup this August.
RACE INFORMATION – WHAT’S THE LOWDOWN?
Date: Friday 12 March
Location: Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE
Time: 03:00 GMT
Prize Money: $15,000 – pays 5 deep $2,500 to $500
Format: 1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run
Course: Sea swim, largely flat bike, flat seafront run
Matt Trautman (PTO #32)
THE BIG STORIES
Triathlon fans around the globe will be intrigued to find out how PTO #1 athlete Daniela Ryf fares in Dubai. The Swiss superstar is pretty quiet on social media but given her dominance over the last five years, it’s hard to bet against the champ whenever she lines up! Her stiffest competition will likely come from her home country in the form of Imogen Simmonds (PTO #17) who came third at the 2019 70.3 worlds and won this very race last year.
Picking favourites from a 63-strong line-up in the men’s race is tough, but Joe Skipper (PTO #7) is sure to make his mark on the race. Not only has Skipper been training like a demon of late, he’s done it in the heat of Dubai, too. Record holder for the fastest ever land-portion of an iron-distance event with a 4:05 bike and 2:39 run in Florida 2019, if he’s in anything like that form, he’ll be jumping straight up to the automatic selection list for the Collins Cup’s European team.
While we’ve all been waiting for racing to recommence, the Zwift Z-Pro Tri Series has been there to fill the void. On Friday, we’ll get to see some of its main protagonists go head-to-head in real life. Antony Costes might have proven himself the best in a virtual world with a string of wins in Zwift, but can he give fellow Zwifters Matt Trautman (PTO #32), Seppe Odeyn and Kenneth Vandendriessche the same battering on the race course in Dubai?
KEEP AN EYE ON
Outside of Skipper, Pieter Heemeryck (PTO #17) is the highest-ranked male in the event and given the limited racing options for European athletes at the moment, Dubai could be a great opportunity for the Belgian to gain some valuable points. He currently sits in seventh among the European men so hasn’t got too far to leap up into the top four and the Collins Cup’s automatic qualification zone.
While Ryf’s position at the top of the European points table isn’t going to be challenged by any racers in Dubai, there are just four PTO World Rankings points between Imogen Simmonds – currently eighth – and 10th place Sara Svensk (PTO #22). That means the pair will have extra motivation to outdo one another on the race course as positioning could be vital to their respective tallies.
UP AND COMING
Britain’s Simone Mitchell might not factor in the PTO top-100, but then she’s only just joined the pro ranks. She proved herself as one to watch at Ironman Lanzarote in 2018, where, as an age-grouper, she posted a scorching time of 9:54:29. That put her second only to race winner Lucy Gossage in terms of splits – quicker than Michelle Vesterby and 58-minutes faster than her nearest age-group competitor.Next article