Abu Dhabi is a real buzz with only one more sleep to go to race day. The hotel where I am staying is totally booked by athletes. When have 23 levels with 25 rooms on each, you can imagine the level of excitement around the place. Everywhere you turn you are seeing the world’s best athletes in focus mode. Man… they look so fit. That’s why I am walking round with a large loose shirt.
Let’s look at the women’s field.
The big news is that two times Abu Dhabi Long Course Champ, Julie Dibens (Great Britian), due to injury will not be racing and will be joining me in the commentary for expert comments.
Number one seed and my pick is Aussie Melissa Rollison. This is her first campaign at long course racing. Everyone is asking can she go the distance but she is one tough cookie and is totally focused on the number 1 position. “I have been preparing with some long rides in my preparation. Living in Brisbane I have been riding to the Sunshine Coast which has given me a solid endurance base. I am confident that with a solid ride on Saturday, I will still be able to run home strong”
Melissa will have many contenders around her. Caroline Steffen could be a real danger after a 4th place here in 2010, 2nd place in 2012. Caroline has been based back on the Sunshine Coast after her team camp earlier this year on the Gold Coast. “I am in great condition and I feel very strong and I know I am ready for a great race”. The “Swiss Miss” is hoping to climb one step higher on the podium.
Leanda Cave (Great Britian) returns once again after a 2nd place here in 2010. She has been training on the Sunshine coast and is in great shape. After a great 2011 season, including 3rd in Hawaii, 1st IM Arizona, 1st Wildflower, Leanda is determined to start 2012 the way she ended last season.
My dark horse is Great Britain’s Jodi Swallow who returns from injury. This girl can swim, ride and traditionally sets her race her and backs it up with a solid run home. The question being asked is can she return to the form that saw her crowned World long Course Champ (2009), World 70.3 Champ (2010) and 70.3 South Africa Champ (2011).
Other athletes that will be definitely in the mix include Rachael Joyce ((UK), Angela Naeth (Canada),
Lucie Zelenkova (Chec. Republic) and watch out for Kiwi Michelle Bremer (IMWA Champ).
Finally the other Aussie girls look in great shape. I would be putting a little side bet on Nikki Butterfield, especially with the course set up with the longer bike. Back in triathlon after competing around the world as pro cyclist, Nikki looks in awesome shape and is confident she can rattle the field. Also Christie Sym is hoping to make amends for her disappointing race last year.
One more sleep to the big day. Race action starts here on Saturday morning at 6.40am (1.40pm EST).