A stunning line-up of the world’s best triathletes is getting ready to take the stage for the sixth edition of the World Championship Series Abu Dhabi presented by Daman, with a mix of new names trying to consolidate their position on the Maurice Lacroix World Triathlon Championship Series Rankings and the big names of the circuit battling to go back on top of the list. Olympic and World Champions will take to the start line for the traditional Sprint distance race in the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit knowing that, in 12 months’ time, it is on this very course that the next world champions of our sport will be crowned, and the race is more open than ever before.
With current Olympic and World Champion Kristian Blummenfelt skipping Abu Dhabi, wearing number one this Friday will be a new face for triathlon fans all over the world: Tim Helllwig. The young German, also the U23 World Championships silver medalist, had a perfect start of the season claiming the victory in Hamburg in September, and is ready to make another perfect debut in Abu Dhabi, leading a powerful German team that will have a mix of new names - Lasse Nygaard-Priester, currently ranked 4th in the Championship Series Ranking- and Johannes Vogel, along with Jonas Schomburg, the only athlete lining up this weekend in Abu Dhabi that has raced here the six previous editions of the race.
But if the German squad is strong, so is the French one. Being two-times World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist on the Relay is not enough to earn Vincent Luis one of the first numbers on the start list. The Frenchman will be wearing an unusual number for him this Friday, #21, but he will definitely be one to beat, having medaled twice before in Abu Dhabi. He knows the course, is a fast swimmer, skilled biker and strong runner and knows how to battle the extreme conditions that athletes will have to face this weekend, with water expected to be above 30 degrees and air temperature also well above the thirties.
His teammate Leo Bergere will be choosing position on the pontoon before him, thanks to his third place in Hamburg 2021, the same position he got at the Edmonton World Triathlon Championship Finals. Bergere’s best finish in the Formula 1 circuit was fourth place in 2019, outsprinting Luis over the blue carpet, and will be surely looking to continue his podium strike this week. Both will keep an eye to the youngest of the team, Paul Georgenthum, who had an outstanding debut in the World Traithlon Championship Series by taking the second place in Hamburg. Pierre Le Corre also knws the circuit after having raced here three times before, and will try to show once more his bike skills in the flat and technical course in Abu Dhabi.
Two other Olympic medallists will line up in Abu Dhabi this Friday. Hayden Wilde (NZL), bronze in the individual race, has shown great form in the weeks leading up to the Series, competing at the Superleague circuit four consecutive weeks, but the travel to Abu Dhabi has not been an easy one for him, with very little time for training in the last days. On the other side, the flat-pan run course fits him like a glove, so if he stays with the front group until the second transition, this one could be a memorable race for the young kiwi.
Another face that we haven’t seen for a while is Morgan Pearson (USA), who rounded an almost perfect season with two WTCS podiums in Yokohama and Leeds to then get a silver medal in the Mixed Relay at the Tokyo Olympics, but hasn’t raced since then. Nothing could be better for Spaniard Antonio Serrat Seoane to finish the season in style than a Series podium, the first one of his career, after three top five finish in the last months. And also looking for a good end of the season will be Casper Stornes (NOR), who had disappointing results in Tokyo Olympics but came back with a victory on Ironman 70.3 Nice just a month ago.
Jelle Geens (BEL) or Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) should definitely be included in the ones to follow, looking forward some redemption after a rather disappointing summer of races between Covid positives and injuries. And never forget young guns like Csongor Lehman (HUN), current U23 World Champion, or Vasco Vilaca (POR), silver medalist at the 2020 World Championships, always there when it comes to important races.
Men will line up on the pontoon on Friday, November 5th, at 14.11h local time, and you can watch the race live on Triathlonlive.tv