Abu Dhabi International Triathlon’s reigning champion, Brisbane’s Nikki Butterfield, has postponed her planned retirement to defend her UAE capital title next month against what is expected to be the strongest female elite line up outside of the Ironman World Championship.

 

Having put her career on hold after her historic Abu Dhabi win to concentrate on having a second child, Butterfield has now teamed up with husband, Bermudan Olympic triathlete Tyler, who will make his UAE capital debut on March 2nd, to work round-the-clock in preparation for her flagship Abu Dhabi 223kms ‘pure power’ title defence.

 

“One of the great things about keeping a detailed training diary and then doing well is I can now look back on what I was doing at a similar time and see where I am each week compared to last year, what I was doing, how I felt, my times, pace, heart rates etc.,” said Butterfield.

 

“Some things this year are identical like my treadmill sets, run loops, bike intervals and loops, but I have made some changes,” explained the mother who crossed Abu Dhabi’s finish line last year with daughter Savannah in her arms to rapturous applause after holding off late charges from Angela Neath, Caroline Steffen and Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison), who are all returning to challenge her top spot.

 

“This year I’m trying to be more consistent in my training day-to-day, week-to-week and in my overall preparation. Last year I quite frequently flogged myself, would have to take a few days easy or off, then flog myself again. Obviously it worked for Abu Dhabi, but by July I wanted to quit. This year I’m trying to be more progressive, we’ll see how it affects my result.”

 

The former professional cyclist proved her racing pedigree when she drew on her extensive arsenal of experience to clinch victory on the energy-sapping 200kms bike leg, which ultimately led to her taking top spot two-and-a-half minutes ahead of the chasing pack.

 

“The way the race panned out in 2012 and my edge over my competitors was simple, I used cycling tactics to work over the other girls on the bike. I actually tried to just ride away thinking in a non-drafting race that would be enough but as everyone knows, even when you sit at the legal distance, it’s easier for the person behind, so to just ride away you have to be a lot stronger,” added super-cyclist  Butterfield, widely regarded to be as versatile as she is fast.

 

“Also being known as a strong biker no one wanted to let me go. I didn’t plan on attacking like that before the race and if you had asked me, I’d have said it was a crazy move, but in cycling you learn to take opportunities when they present themselves and at about 140km in the bike I started to form a plan based on what the other girls were doing. The best situation is to be able to think on your feet and be able to make quick decisions based on how the race is playing out.”

 

With one of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) event’s strongest elite line ups due to take their marks next month, Nikki and Tyler will be putting everything they’re got into their Australian training period pre-race.

 

“Tyler and I really like coming down to Australia to escape the Colorado winter. Whenever we’re here we’re basically on training camp and we’re very focussed so it makes sense to choose a big race after a big training block,” added the fiery redhead.

 

Tyler who finished fourth at the 2012 Ironman Arizona and is the reigning Pan American Champion, also represented Bermuda at his second Olympic Games in London, clocking the fastest bike split and placing 34th.  He’s now going into the 2013 season with a long course focus.

 

“Abu Dhabi is my season opener and it is a huge race to open with, but I like the big races as they are what gets me out the door to train,” said Tyler, who will join 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, Alistair Brownlee, in the capital next month for the event.

 

“I’m very excited for 2013 and especially Abu Dhabi. A good result there means the year is a success right off the bat. Abu Dhabi is a one day race with no points and no other reason than to show up and race as hard as you can. It is a priority of mine to have my best race possible. Hopefully it will be good enough to mix it at the pointy end of the race but we will see on the day.”

 

The 2013 Abu Dhabi International Triathlon starts with a sunrise swim in the Arabian Gulf’s shimmering turquoise waters off Abu Dhabi’s Blue Flagged public beach, before weaving through closed roads along the Corniche Beach, up to the spectacular Yas Island and around the Yas Marina Circuit – home to the annual Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – before returning to the heart of the UAE capital.

 

The Abu Dhabi International Triathlon offers three course distances; the 223km ‘long course’ (3km swim, a 200km cycle and 20km run), the half-length ‘short’ course (1.5km swim, a 100km cycle and a 10 km run) and the sprint course (750m swim, a 50km bike and 5km run). Both the ‘short’ and the ‘sprint’ can be run as a team relay.

 

Organisers have frozen athlete registration fees for the fourth year in a row. Athletes interested in entering should visitwww.abudhabitriathlon.com and, after clicking on the ENTER NOW link, simply follow the instructions (entries open at 7am GMT 14 November 2012). Entry fees for the long and short distances are US$190 (AED 695) and US $130 (AED 475) respectively, while Sprint course rates are US$75 (AED 275) for individuals and US $120 (AED440) for a team. The fee for the team relay is US$280 (AED1,022).

 

– UAE

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