Rasmus Henning Smashes Abu Dhabi Triathlon record to snatch win
Created On: 03 March 2012
Team Abu Dhabi captain Faris Al Sultan narrowly missed out on a
famous home-town victory at the US$250,000 Abu Dhabi International
Triathlon on Saturday, overtaken in the dying moments by Denmark's
Rasmus Henning who snatched the win in a spectacularly close
In a day of record-breaking performances, Henning claimed
victory with a time of 06:21:44, smashing the current course record
by 18 minutes. Abu Dhabi debutant, Australia's Nikki Butterfield,
also broke the women's course record in a time of 07:00:22.
Such was the strength of the field, and the perfect race
conditions in the United Arab Emirates capital, that all of the top
ten male elites and top five females broke previous course
Five times World Cup winner Henning - whose Abu Dhabi dreams
were crushed in 2011 after cramp forced him to retire in the early
stages - got his revenge on the 223kms 'pure power' course this
year, with an emphatic last gasp sprint to overtake local favourite
Al-Sultan and hold off last year's champion Eneko Llanos, chasing
hard in third.
"It feels awesome.... I needed this confidence boost because I'd
been starting to doubt whether I'd ever come back on top - it's
been such a long time. This is really important to me and I'm
looking towards the rest of the season. Today I think the
conditions were really fabulous - it wasn't too windy and it
certainly wasn't too hot," said the elated Dane.
Al Sultan, who led for most of the race, took his first podium
place at the event with a time of 06:22:11 - just 27 seconds behind
Henning. And whilst the 2005 Ironman World Champion was
disappointed, he was full of praise for his rival.
"Honestly, I hardly found a place where I could complain about
the support - it was great. It's an honour to be cheered on by so
many people, whether they are athletes or fans and spectators, and
as I said, I tried my very best, I gave it my all, and that was all
I could do."
In the women's elite field, the most competitive to date, it was
an equally thrilling affair.
Only recently back from injury, the 2010 World 70.3 Champion,
Briton Jodie Swallow, led the women in the swim with a close to
course-record breaking time of 58:53 and in the process nearly
opened a two minute lead on the chasing pack. Following her out of
the water was Lucie Zelenkova of Czech Republic, a previous
Olympian who holds the current swim course record, and Emma Kate
Lidbury, also from Great Britain.
During the bike leg the true contenders came into their own with
Swallow, Australian star Nikki Butterfield, Canadian Angela Naeth
and Switzerland's Caroline Steffen leading the way with fellow
Aussie Mel Rollison just behind the pack but still in contention.
Butterfield led the transition with a one minute 43 second
advantage over Naeth, which she never relinquished, ensuring she
crossed the line victorious on her first Abu Dhabi outing.
"Honestly, I came here to try and win this race but when it
comes to the day you never know what might actually happen. This
year boasted such a strong women's line up but I knew if I had a
good day out on the course it meant I was in for a great chance. I
was behind at the end of the swim so that wasn't unusual - it was
just a matter of minimising my losses and saving the energy until
the best part - the bike race," said Butterfield, who crossed the
Abu Dhabi finish with her daughter Savana in her arms.
"I caught up on the bike and I knew I was in with the chance.
However, I was really concerned about Melissa Rollison - she is
such a good runner. My first priority was to beat her off the bike
and she was more tired than me - she left little gaps open and I
sat 15 metres behind her. I jumped across to Angela, Caroline
and Jodie and while I was messing they came up hard and I hit it
even harder like it was a cycling race.
"At the end of the day you want to get the best out of yourself
and I am glad I pushed myself today to and won it. I am so
motivated by winning this race because when I came down here that
was what I had planned for exactly," added the Australian, a former
Under-23 World Champion and Australian Long Course Champion.
Race organiser, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority,
promised this year's event would be the biggest and
best-of-its-kind to date, and it didn't disappoint. Thousands of
fans lined the UAE capital's roads, beaches and Yas Marina Circuit
race track to cheer on the more than 1,855 athletes from 62
countries - the highest number in the event's three-year
A full activation programme also took place at a dedicated Race
Village on the Corniche beachfront, with games, competitions,
entertainment and prizes all on offer from dawn to dusk.
"This has been a spectacular race in every possible way. From
the closest ever finish to the biggest amateur turn out we have
had, this has been a great advert for the sport and for Abu Dhabi.
Congratulations to everyone who took part and we look forward to an
even more exciting race in 2013," said Faisal Al Sheikh, Events
Manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
For find full results from the 2012 Abu Dhabi International
Triathlon visit www.abudhabitriathlon.com