Clayton Fettell, Paul Ambrose, Leon Griffin, Nikki Butterfield and Melissa Rollison are going to Abu Dhabi with winning on their minds. Whilst they may be a bit more modest in public about their chances this distance has Clayton Fettell’s name written all over it. Rollison on the other hand may technically not be the the pick for this format but the leading women now know that they are going to have to have a large lead off the bike if they are going to stop her running them down. Could this be their undoing? Paul Ambrose is part of the Abu Dhabi Triathlon team and has been over training and will have a good feel for the race conditions. Winning a big race is something Ambrose has done before and he knows how to race these distances.
Clayton Fettell is a renowned swim / bike specialist and is showing that he is not far off adding run to that description. He will be the shortest odds to be leading off the bike. The big unknown will be holding on for 20kms after 200 on the bike. He showed in Ironman Western Australia at the end of last year that he is close. It took Timo Bracht 32kms on the run to catch Fettell after he dominated the swim and ride.
No doubt Paul Ambrose will be looking to impress his bosses on home soil. After last joining the year Abu Dhabi triathlon team last year Ambrose had a great 2011 with many podiums and wins in 70.3 and Ironman. He is certainly one of the more intense trainers out there and puts in 110%.
Melissa Rollison is feeling great heading into Abu Dhabi. “I have had two weeks at Falls Creek including racing (and winning) the Australian Long Course Champs. The tough bike course has been a great prep for the Abu Dhabi. Although Falls was totally different conditions and terrain to what Abu Dhabi is going to be I think the long hard km’s at altitude will really help.”
With a longer swim (3km instead of 1.9km) Mel won’t be surprised if there are quite a few off the bike before her. “All of my 70.3 races I did last year, not once was I off the bike first so I’m probably going to have some chasing to do.”
Rollison is still trying to get to know the top female triathletes but she knows she will be in a very strong field.”I don’t know a lot of the girls on the list. Out of the few I have raced before that I think will be very strong are Caroline Steffan. Steffan is a very strong cyclist and great swimmer too so I’m tipping she’ll be right up there. Angela Naeth is a great cyclist too. Leanda Cave who I’ve raced a few times now has always been off the bike before me after her amazing swim/bike combo.
Clayton Fettell has had a great run of training. “I am in very good shape. I have had no sickness or injury and have managed to do good consistent training since Christmas. My bike focus has been heavy and I have bumped the bike volume to 1000km weeks including a 3 week training camp at Thredbo. Other than early season Gym work nothing special other then just getting it done.”
Fettell’s race tactics will be to focus on his race and not think about the quality athletes I am racing against. “It is going to be a big learning experience for me and I am looking forward to mixing it with the best. Certainly the format suits my strengths it would be nice if it wasn’t so far from home.”
Someone who has been off the radar with all the talk is Nikki Butterfield. Mark Newton sent us an email yesterday saying that we should go and have a look at her results recently since coming back in to racing. Butterfield won Ironman Syracuse 70.3 last year and also raced a number of 5150 races with a number of seconds in the US and Europe. Key to placing Nikki amongst the players this weekend is her cycling background. With 5 European cycling stage wins, a Tour de France sprinters Jersey in 2006 and two Australian championship podiums Butterfield is one of the stronger athletes racing this weekend. The 200km cycle leg is going to favour Butterfield.
Nikki Butterfield is coached by the legendary Dave Scott in Boulder. In 2003 she won the U23 World Championships in QLD where she rode off the front of the group with Mirinda Carfrae and ran the same pace to win.
For the record Fettell is saying Bockel is the man to beat.
Bryan Rhodes is racing and I suppose we can bestow some sort of Australian hood on him since we are between rugby seasons.
Leon and Christie, I will get more up on you later today. Apologies.
Pro Start List
Frederik Van Lierde
Nicholas Peter Ward MuÃ±oz