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Season Starts in the City of Gold

Feb 17, 2017



IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai kicks off with two of the fastest athletes in the world as the first pro race of the year in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

by Volker Boch


It's flat, it's fast, it's iconic. Tomorrow, the United Arab Emirates will host the second edition of IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai, a spectacular race on a course designed for records. In a strong pro field, there are at minimum two athletes ready to go after the record: Javier Gomez, the five-time ITU world champion, is the number one favorite in men's race. His female counterpart comes from Switzerland, none other than defending champion Daniela Ryf.


Both athletes have the passion, the talent, and the will to begin the 2017 season in great fashion. After missing the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio after a bad crash three weeks prior to the event, Gomez seems to be focusing more on his long-distance ambitions. The 33-year-old is planning for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and he is thinking about an IRONMAN debut in November. Talking to a Spanish newspaper a few days after he watched the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, he mentioned IRONMAN Arizona and IRONMAN Cozumel as options.


Gomez is an athlete who could be a dominating factor on the long stretch. He won the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship and ranked third at the same event in Zell am See in 2015, despite not being 100 percent recovered after an illness. After missing Rio, it seems to be time for him to aim for his goals of transitioning into a long-course triathlete.


Gomez is the top favorite for Dubai. He directly came from a training camp in Lanzarote where he prepared in gusty winds to be ready for tough conditions tomorrow. He is expected to have the right speed and set the pace early in the race. Missing from the field is last year's champion, Germany's Jan Frodeno. Frodeno started an unbelievable season in Dubai. Only a few days before his wife Emma Snowsill gave birth to their son Luca. He also won the inaugural race with an advantage of almost seven minutes on Australia's Josh Amberger.


While the men's defending champion is missing, Daniela Ryf is returning to defend the women's title. She hasn't raced since Kona, so Dubai will be a true start to the season for the 29-year-old. Ryf felt a lot of fatigue after taking on Kona at the end of an amazing season which included a course record. Ryf talked to IRONMAN about a perfect race after defending her title in Kona, and called it the best day in her career. Then she disappeared from the racing scene to take a deep breath and get some fresh Swiss air in her lungs.


Ryf has been preparing in Cyprus since the middle of January. She reported on Twitter and Facebook about the conditions, and honestly, it didn't look like the easiest winter training camp on record. Maybe this apparently tough camp was the best way to get ready for a challenging year and for a great start in Dubai.


This year, Ryf seems to be willing to prove that she is the best long-course athlete in history. From Dubai on, 2017 might be another Ryf year. Last year in Dubai, she finished with a four-minute-lead ahead of her compatriot Caroline Steffen, a clear signal for the season ahead.


No question, the 2017 IRONMAN pro season will begin tomorrow with a tough cookie in Dubai. Due to safety reasons the swim course has been changed, and the wind might be a factor throughout the entire race.

Tomorrow, "The City of Gold" welcomes some of the best pro athletes who want to start their year off on a good foot. Our predictions are Ryf and Gomez for the best shot at shining brightest.


Originally from: http://ap.ironman.com/




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