Back with a bang! Alistair Brownlee absolutely dominated Dubai 70.3 at the weekend, he led out of the water, powered away on the bike and backed it up with a blistering run. The only thing he wasn’t quickest at was the transitions, but being as he had a 6.35-minute advantage over second place, I think we can let him off!
This race although very early on in the season is always going to attract an impressive lineup. As part of the triple crown, the $1,000,000 for the win at all three races will undoubtedly bring out the best athletes in the world. In total just under 60 pro's were racing between the women's and men's field. With such large numbers and big names lining up, and with Alistair only recently having had surgery on his hamstring, it wasn’t initially a sure thing that we would see the usual Brownlee dominating performance.
Brownlee led out of the water along with Johann Ackermann, and although Brownlee exited the water first, Ackerman crossed the timing mat ahead of the two-time Olympic champion. Then followed seven other athletes within the next 15 seconds including past Olympic medalist and 70.3 champion Sven Riederer (SUI) and recent breakout star and Jan Frodeno’s training partner Nick Kastelein (AUS). Other notable names included Maurice Clavel (GER) and previous Dubai 70.3 podium finisher Ruedi Wild (SUI).
Brownlee was trialling the latest sample of a wetsuit that he and his brother have been developing with HUUB over the last year. This wetsuit project focuses on creating the best suit for elite performance, incorporating design elements never seen before in wetsuit production.
As we have seen in the majority of Brownlee’s longer distance races, not content with sitting in the ‘pack’ he stormed off at the front of the race. By the halfway marker he had established a mightily impressive 2.49 lead over the chasing pack and by the time he entered T2 his lead was over 4 minutes! His 1:58.51 bike split would suggest he was averaging 45.44kph (28.23mph) showing his recent work with HUUB aerodynamic consultant and National TT champion Dan Bigham was paying off. Dan’s work on TT position along with active drag from the bike, equipment and apparel, combined with Brownlee’s pedigree will make him a force to be reckoned with on the bike throughout his long distance career.
On to the run and Brownlee looked his usual self and was as in control as he was on the bike. Although he could have easily let off the gas and cruised to the victory, he pushed on and also recorded the days quickest run, with a 1:09.34 half marathon run split. Swiss pair Sven Rider and Ruedi Wild took the final two steps on the podium. It is very early on in 2018, but it looks like it could be a dominant year for Alistair Brownlee. With the Commonwealth Games a target of his, as well as his long distance ambitions it seems like he could be all-dominating across the whole sport, ITU and non drafting. If any athlete has the capability for this, it is Alistair!
1st – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 3:35:30
2nd – Sven Riederer (SUI) – 3:42:05
3rd – Ruedi Wild (SUI) – 3:42:42
4th – Maurice Clavel (GER) – 3:43:38
5th – Nick Kastelein (AUS) – 3:44:19
6th – Ilia Prasolov (RUS) – 3:45:35
7th – Jesper Svensson (SWE) – 3:45:41
8th – Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) – 3:47:08
9th – Bertrand Billard (FRA) – 3:47:10
10th – Kevin Maurel (FRA) – 3:47:53
The women’s race was also a fast affair with a strong showing from some of the world fastest long distance athletes. Each year it seems that more ITU stars are testing the waters in long distance events. At the World 70.3 Championships in 2017 many of the top positions were taken by past and present ITU athletes - perhaps a taster of what to expect in coming years?
Great Britain was well represented in the women's race, with four athletes making the top 10. The best of the day was Sarah Lewis in 2nd place, with previous 70.3 World Champion Holly Lawrence in 3rd. Kimberley Morrison and Nikki Bartlett were 6th and 7th respectively. The days best performance could only be accredited to one athlete - Anne Haug (GER). Similar to Alistair Brownlee, Haug rose to prowess in ITU racing and was always known for her strong biking and exceptionally quick run. In her usual fashion, Lawrence led out fo the water and led the charge on the bike, by the end of the 90km she had a 3.30 gap to a small group of Salthouse (AUS) and Lewis. Morrison was among the group of three and leader Lawrence, and although nearly matching her bike split, her deficit from the swim meant she couldn’t challenge for the lead. On to the run and it was a similar scenario to Bahrain 70.3 in 2017 when Haug was running down the Briton. On that occasion, Lawrence managed to hold on to the win by 10 seconds. This time round Haug was the victor and delivered an incredible 1:14.11 run split!
1st – Anne Haug (GER) – 4:00:25
2nd – Sarah Lewis (GBR) – 4:05:19
3rd – Holly Lawrence (GBR) – 4:07:36
4th – Ellie Salthouse (AUS) – 4:11:11
5th – Agnieszka Jerzyk (POL) – 4:15:16
6th – Kimberley Morrison (GBR) – 4:16:20
7th – Nikki Bartlett (GBR) – 4:20:19
8th – Asa Lundstrom (SWE) – 4:23:18
9th – Minna Koistinen (FIN) – 4:24:28
10th – Annah Watkinson (RSA) – 4:31:53
Photo Credit - Talbot Cox