Following a five-year partnership between Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) and ITU – the international Federation for triathlon – the sport’s season opener will be held at the UAE capital from 2015-2019 with next year’s event being centred in and around the city’s stunning Corniche from March 6-7.
This year, the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, which was jointly won by the UK’s Brownlee brothers – reigning Olympic Champion Alistair and his brother Jonathan, 2012 World Champion – was contested by a field of 2,400.
Around 2,400 age group athletes from 100 countries are expected to join the elite athletes in Abu Dhabi next March to compete over two courses, the ‘Olympic’ distance of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, or the ‘Sprint’ distance of a 0.5km swim, 20km bike and a 5km run. The event will be headquartered at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club where a spectator-friendly environment including a 2,000-seater grandstand, a bike park, a ‘Friends and Family’ area, refreshment kiosks and a kids zone will be built. The elite event will feature a ‘swim start’ off the Volvo Ocean Race yacht pontoons on Abu Dhabi Corniche with the top 65 men and top 65 women on the ITU World Series rankings competing for line honours in the opening event of the 2015 season.
His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary, ADSC, said: “The World Triathlon Series represents the ‘best of the best’ - like Abu Dhabi - with the sports elite competing in a 10-city circuit, all striving to become World Champion and qualify for the Olympic Games.”
“We envisage a host of benefits emerging from this partnership. These include further positioning of Abu Dhabi as a destination for world-class sporting events, additional destination exposure among an influential client base, encouragement of our own youth to join in one of the world’s fastest-growing Olympic sports and the promotion among our own community of the benefits of healthy lifestyles.
Marisol Casado, ITU President, added: “This is a partnership which represents a meeting of like minds in terms of ambitions. Abu Dhabi is a world class city and offers a fantastic combination of beautiful water and superb road infrastructure that is entirely suitable for a WTS event.”
“In our talks leading up to the partnership it became apparent that Abu Dhabi wants to take its triathlon to the next level and expand the sport’s reach in much the same way as ITU is determined to progress the sport internationally.”
The World Triathlon series has an impressive media footprint which includes a global television audience of over 200 million via 900 hours of broadcast time in 160 countries. In addition, the Series will boast 10 television magazine shows, post-race syndicated international broadcast news feeds and LIVE web streaming of all Elite races and magazine shows to triathlonlive.tv subscribers.
The 2015 Abu Dhabi event will come hot on the heels of the UAE capital’s hosting of the Volvo Ocean Race from December 12, 2014 to January 3 2015, the 6th Mubadala World Tennis Championship from January 1-3 and the 10th anniversary of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship from January 15-18.
The triathletes are expected to arrive early to train for the season opener and, in all, ADSC estimates each event will deliver around 7,500 hotel room nights to the UAE capital.