The opening round of the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series takes place on Saturday in Abu Dhabi. Commonwealth Champion, Jodie Stimpson, and Olympic bronze medallist, Jonathan Brownlee are amongst the British line up, but Olympic Champion, Alistair Brownlee, will miss this round.
Ali Brownlee has injured his ankle and will take the race off to recover. The Olympic and Commonwealth champion broke the course record in 2013 and last year, shared the crown with his brother.
Jonathan Brownlee is one of four British men racing on Saturday. Adam Bowden, Mark Buckingham and Gordon Benson will join him, with Spanish pair, Javier Gomez and Mario Mola the top ranked athletes on the start line.
Brownlee comes into the race having run 14:00 in a 5km road race in Armagh. He commented:
“It’s a sprint race so anything can happen but I know my 5km running speed is good. It’s a shame for Alistair that he’s not racing but it’s a big year for us all with Olympic qualification and it’s still very early in the year at the moment.”
The first round of the Series takes place over the sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) on Saturday, 7 March and will be followed by another eight rounds before the 2015 ITU World Champions are decided at the Grand Final in Chicago in September. Read our review of Abu Dhabi here.
The elite women will open the 2015 Series at 3pm local time (11am in the UK), followed by the men two hours later.
Stimpson lines up alongside Lucy Hall, Emma Pallant and Heather Sellars racing for Great Britain. ITU World Champion, Gwen Jorgensen (USA) starts in pole position.
Stimpson said: “It’s good to be getting the season underway. This is a sprint race so it’s a good chance to see where I’m at before the next two races in Auckland and the Gold Coast.”
In order to challenge for ITU world titles, athletes need to complete five of the nine rounds, and the Grand Final in Chicago in September. The Series will visit five continents, and visit the London 2012 Olympic Triathlon venue, Hyde Park, on 31 May.
Live coverage from Abu Dhabi is available on the BBC Sport website (11am women’s race), BBC Red Button (from 12pm women’s replay plus live men’s race live at 1pm) and triathlonlive.tv (both races live). The BBC will show a highlights package on BBC2 on Monday 9 March at 2.30pm.
ITU World Triathlon Series 2015
7 March – ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi
29 March – Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Auckland
11 April – ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast
25-26 April – Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town
16 May – ITU World Triathlon Yokohama
31 May – Vitality World Triathlon London – Sprint Distance
18-19 July – ITU World Triathlon Hamburg – Sprint Distance
22-23 August – Vattenfall World Triathlon Stockholm – Sprint Distance
5-6 September – ITU World Triathlon Edmonton – Sprint Distance
15-20 September – ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago