Britain's Jessica Learmonth finished second at the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi. Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands and Henri Shoeman (RSA) were the race winners in an event that featured multiple bike crashes around the wet Formula One race track. Jonathan Brownlee finished seventh in the men's race.
2018 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi RESULTS:
|3.||Natalie Van Coevorden||AUS||01:01:00|
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Learmonth was first out of the swim and fortunate not to be involved in bike crashes around her. The front pack, which she was part of, saw Katie Zaferes (USA) and Sophie Coldwell crash. Coldwell got up and finished 26th, but Zaferes was a high-profile casualty along with ITU world champion, Flora Duffy (BER).
Commenting on the bike leg, Learmonth said: “It was survival of the fittest I think.”
She added: “My main aim was to put in a good run. I don’t know how well I actually ran as it was just a group of four. It gives me a bit of confidence and we’ll see what it brings.”
Jonny Brownlee made a great start in the swim and rode away from the rest of the group on the bike, but his lead lasted only seconds before his wheels slid out from underneath him. He said: “I crashed on the first lap. I didn’t realise how slippery some parts of the circuit were, and then I lost a bit of confidence and didn’t really get it back on the bike.”
He ran through for seventh place, adding: “I knew I wasn’t going to run very well, but that’s the first race done.”
Henri Shoeman was an impressive winner, commenting: “I just wanted to be safe out there and I found I had a gap. I’m in great form leading into the Commonwealth Games, my next race.”
After finishing second here last year, Tom Bishop was disappointed to finish 14th.
British Triathlon Performance Director, Brendan Purcell said: “All four of our guys crashed, and Non and Sophie both went down. They’re all ok, but obviously this venue is used to being dry, I can’t remember seeing rain here before and in a racing situation people will try to take the best lines. The British athletes are used to riding in the wet, but if there’s oil on the road it makes it very slippery.”
He added: “Credit to Jess Learmonth, that was a great start to the season. Now we’re on to Australia to prepare for the Commonwealth Games, which is our focus now.”