How (and who) to watch at WTCS Abu Dhabi

Flora Duffy. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

On Friday some of the world’s best short-course triathletes will be on hand for the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) Abu Dhabi. The races will be covered live on – the men’s race starts at 14:11 local time (6:11 EST, 12:11 CEST), while the women will head off a 16:11 local time (8:11 EST, 14:11 CEST). Both the men’s and women’s races promise to be very exciting, with a number of top contenders in the field.

Highlighting the women’s field will be Olympic gold medalist Flora Duffy (BER), but a lot of eyes will be on Great Britain’s Lucy Charles-Barclay, the reigning Ironman 70.3 World Champion who made her WTCS debut in Leeds earlier this year with a fifth-place finish in her first draft-legal race.

While it would seem pretty certain that Charles-Barclay will lead the women out of the water in Abu Dhabi, there are a lot of women who could be in the mix with her on the bike along with Duffy. Taylor Knibb took the WTCS Final in Edmonton thanks to a gutsy breakaway effort on the bike, but its hard to imagine she’ll be able to ride away from this field – the list of lead-pack and medal contenders include: Olympic silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown, Jessica Learmonth, Sophie Coldwell and Sian Rainslay, all from Great Britain, along with Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA), Laura Lindemann (GER), Summer Rappaport (USA) and Taylor Spivey (USA). Add to the mix the likes of Vicky Holland, Non Stanford and Beth Potter who, if they don’t make the lead pack, will drive the chase pack and can certainly run their way into contention, too.

The men’s race goes a few hours earlier than the women’s – the 2:11 pm start time seemingly has them head off at the hottest time of the day. The water temperature in Yas Marina is expected to be 31 C, with the air temperatures even higher than that, making for some tough conditions for both races. Without Olympic champ Kristian Blummenfelt to drive the pace one imagines we’ll see a large pack on the bike with the race determined on the run. Some of the men likely to contend for the win include Vincent Luis (FRA) and his countryman Leo Bergere, Hayden Wilde (NZL), Morgan Pearson (USA), Jelle Geens (BEL) and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN).

You can find the complete start lists for Friday’s races here.