WTCS Abu Dhabi: 5 Things We Learned from the season opener

WTCS Abu Dhabi: 5 Things We Learned from the season opener

The athletes produced precisely the kind of curtain-raiser that the fans were hoping for to the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series following the high drama of November’s Championship Finals.

The world’s best triathletes returned to Abu Dhabi on 3 March to get the new campaign underway and there were plenty of shocks and surprises, bad luck and big finishes out on the Yas Marina F1 circuit as they took the first steps on the path to triathlon’s most prestigious prize in 2023. You can watch the full races back on TriathlonLive.tv, and here are five takeaways from last weekend’s blockbuster WTCS Abu Dhabi.

1. Age is nothing but a number

Alex Yee and Vasco Vilaca were two of the youngest men in the field on Friday, but they had all the composure to time and hold their decisive moves perfectly, showing the rest of the field how it was done over the final run lap. Yee’s 14m26s time over 5km to the gold showed a man back in the groove, Vilaca was just 6 seconds off that pace.

2. Messias loves to work the crowd

Brazil’s Manoel Messias was in 47th place out of T2 before he went about picking his way through the field over the first lap. Sitting on Tyler Mislawchuk’s shoulder, he then pulled clear with Yee and Vilaca to complete the podium, five seconds ahead of Vincent Luis.

3. Spivey back among the medals

After five finishes in 4th or 5th from her nine WTCS races since earning bronze in Montreal back in 2021, USA’s Taylor Spivey was able to dig in and hold off the challenge of teammate Summer Rappaport for a fifth Series medal. Katie Zaferes finished 37th in her first race back for 18 months, Taylor Knibb will start her campaign at May’s WTCS Yokohama.

4. Is Germany’s time coming once again?

Lena Meissner returned to the city of her first ever WTCS medal with another bold display in Abu Dhabi, her fifth-place finish the best of three German women in the top 10 as Nina Eim and Lisa Tertsch showed once again they could be finding their best form at just the right time.

5. Expect the unexpected

Given the unpredictability of top-tier racing, it was remarkable that you had to go back to the 2019 Finals in Lausanne for Georgia Taylor-Brown’s last Series finish outside the top 2 prior to Friday’s race. A 15th place result will leave the British number one even more determined to find her peak, while Beth Potter and Sophie Coldwell’s career-best results underlined GB’s strength in depth. Add in flats for Hayden Wilde and Jacob Birtwhistle, penalty drama for Mislawchuk and not a French athlete on either podium and the form book was well and truly ripped up in race one!

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