Thursday, March 11, 2010

Abu Dhabi Starts Saturday: Who’s gonna be crowned Arabian Prince (and Princess?)

Pundits and experts are doing odds on who’s going to win the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Triathlon and its $50,000 first prize. (Am I missing that they’re taking odds in Vegas by spending too much time at the blackjack tables?) Normally, they'd be good educated guesses. Not here, not tomorrow. As the first race, we contend that a long shot could beat the oddsmakers, and I'm not even going to venture a guess.

Why? For many, it’s the first race of the year. For many, they’re coming out of winter. For some in the Southern Hemisphere, they’re coming into the race at year’s end. Who’s ready to go? Good question.

“That’s the exciting thing,” said Rasmus Henning (pictured below). “Nobody knows how anyone else is doing. And it’s the first race of the year for me—I don’t even know how I’m gonna do!”

Yvonne Van Vlerken of the Netherlands said it’s not about worrying about anyone else other than yourself. “I feel rested, and I felt like this before setting the world record,” she said. “I know the course is made for me—but that’s on paper. I don’t know what will happen outside.”

Then you’ve got folks that are playing their fitness down, maybe sandbagging a bit. “People are playing it down like ‘aw, we’ll see how it goes,’” said Trek/K-Swiss Aussie Joe Gambles. “But when that gun goes off, it’s going to be on. As soon as this race was announced last year, people would have put this on their front burner—forget back burner.”

Being the first race of the year, there are so many variables that I don’t think many are considering….like:

Who’s coming from Southern Hemisphere? Raynard Tissink (South Africa), Bryan Rhodes (New Zealand), Leon Griffin (Australia)

Who’s coming from heat? Tereza Macel, Rebekah Keat (Thailand) Faris Al Sultan (Abu Dhabi), Yvonne Van Vlerken (Fuerteventura), Eneko Llanos (Lanzarote)

Who’s coming from cold? Rasmus Henning (Denmark), Bjorn Andersson (Sweden), Rutger Beke (Belgium).

If this was Kona, we’d all know where everyone was; at either heat (Kona camp, Canary Islands) or altitude (Boulder). But with everyone converging from their personal Bermuda Triangle, this one’s gonna be interesting to say the least.

Friday marked bike check-in for all athletes, (preceeded by a splash in the Arabian Sea for most folks) and gave us journos a good first look at athlete race rigs for 2010. Take a look at some goods from today’s check-in.

Belgium's Rutger Beke racks up for Saturday's race.

Dutch pro Yvonne Van Vlerken get in for a splash.

Locked and loaded are Phillip Graves' Specialized Shiv, and Julie Dibens' Trek Speed Concept.

Canadian Sam McGlone practices her beach start entry Friday morning.

Australian Joe Gambles is one of the other few Trek/K-Swiss pros lucky enough to have an early version Speed Concept.

Gambles (far left) chats with fellow competitors on the shuttle from T1 to the hotel Friday.

This caught our eye; Simon Billeau of France figures that the course is flat enough to run a single large chainring, using a custom-fabricated chainguide. Note the absence of a front derailleur shifter on the aerobars. For all that attention, he has a frayed rear derailleur cable, absent a cap.

Leanda Cave's Pinarello sports a set of the new Easton EC90 race wheels.


Mary Ann said...

Jay, Enjoying reading your blog site...have a great time!

Nick said...

Love it, Jay. Especially your commentary regarding the chain guide vis-a-vis the frayed cable. I wish THAT kind of journalism would make the mainstream mags.

david swensen said...

love the bikes..and nice blog too..

Robin Jones said...

I'm loving those new Easton EC90's.