Alex Yee gave the start of his 2023 season a golden sheen by winning the WTCS Abu Dhabi. He raced smartly and while running mercilessly; demolishing one opponent after another by accelerating more and more and eventually claiming victory.
During the swim, it was – as was often the case in past years – Vincent Luis who set the pace. After 8:57 minutes he had finished his 750 meters and was immediately followed by Alessio Crociani and Dorian Coninx. Really big differences were not made during the swim; all the men came out of the water very close behind each other.
On the bike, several large groups formed, all riding a few seconds apart. During the first few kilometers the battle was mainly for positions and it was a matter of waiting to see which groups would join each other and which groups might lose the connection.
After two of the five bike laps, the first two major groups did indeed come together, creating a leading group of as many as 38 men. Many of the favorites were in this group, yet there were also big absentees. Jelle Geens, for example: the Belgian was riding 21 seconds behind. But, even more noticeable was the gap of Gustav Iden (+1:10 minute) and Hayden Wilde (+2:06), who were thus the last athletes of the race.
Then on the third lap, Miguel Hidalgo, Roberto Sanchez Mantecon, Jamie Riddle and Léo Bergere went on an adventure with each other; they grabbed a lead of a handful of seconds, but failed to really get away. The peloton continued to chase, ensuring that the large group of athletes kept control of the race.
In the end, the large leading group began the final five-kilometer run at the same time. At first, many men stayed together, but the pace kept picking up, leaving fewer and fewer men. Halfway through the run, four men – Alex Yee, Tyler Mislawchuk, Manoel Messias and Vasco Vilaca – had a small lead of a few seconds over the first pursuers. Mislawchuk still had a 10-second penalty to sit out, though, and thus seemed to have no chance for the win.
Right at the moment when Luis, at that time fourth, tried to rejoin the leading group from behind, Yee began to accelerate once more. Mislawchuk had to let go at that point, while Yee seemed almost tireless. Yet Messiah and Vilaca also followed seemingly easily, until a steep climb a few hundred meters before the finish. There Yee accelerated once again and made the real difference.
In the final meters, his victory was no longer in danger. Yee won the race in 52:53. Vilaca was second at 6 seconds and Messiah third at 13 seconds.