Alex Yee, the Olympic silver medalist from Britain, made an impressive comeback to the World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi by winning the first gold of 2023.
Yee bridged to the front of the race on the 20km bike after starting 30 seconds back out of the water, and then held off Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca and Brazil’s Manoel Messias to the finish line. Yee's win marked a turnaround from his Championship Finals blues of 2022.
The Big Picture: The Abu Dhabi race saw a stacked field of incredible running talent. With the top three triathletes from last season's championship finals, Yee, Leo Bergere, and Hayden Wilde, all lined up on the far right of the pontoon, France's Vincent Luis took advantage of a middle-pontoon starting position and emerged as the swim leader alongside Dorian Coninx, Mark Devay, Alessio Crociani, and Jamie Riddle.
The 20km bike ride saw a 50-strong group of riders in a massive train, with a breakaway attempt by Bergere, Riddle, and Roberto Sanchez Mantecon short-lived. The 5km run boiled down to a one-man race to the tape for Yee, with Vilaca holding off Messias for silver.
What They Are Saying: "I came here with no expectations and raced free and I guess that's the outcome when you enjoy what you're doing!" said Alex Yee, the Abu Dhabi champion. "It's just so good to be back racing these guys. I just wanted to see how the last weeks of training in Australia had gone, so it's the fruits of our labor, it's worked out well, and I was feeling pretty good today."
"It has been three years since I was on the podium in Hamburg, and it's amazing to start the season like this," said Vasco Vilaca, the silver medalist. "An amazing race and amazing to run with Alex and Manoel going all in to the end. Alex had an extra gear up the hill, so I just did my best. Now I need to fight to stay in the medals and get among the podium again."
Aussie Athletes: Matthew Hauser was part of the 10-deep pack that powered the first lap of the 20km bike ride. Brandon Copeland from Australia flew out of T2 first in the 5km run, but was soon caught by Max Studer and Hauser.
The Bottom Line: Alex Yee made a stunning return to the World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi, winning the first gold of 2023. Yee's win marked a turnaround from his Championship Finals blues of 2022. Vasco Vilaca and Manoel Messias took silver and bronze, respectively, in a stacked field of incredible running talent.