Alistair Brownlee masterclass at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai

Chief Correspondent

Double Olympic Champion is in a different league at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai

(Picture credit – Talbot Cox / Bahrain Endurance 13 Media)



He’s done it enough times before that we shouldn’t need proof – but Alistair Brownlee showed once again today that his ability to recover from injury is unmatched, with a comprehensive destruction of IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai.

First out of the water, he was only edged for the fastest swim split by Johann Ackermann (GER) who crossed the timing mat on dry land first, as a group on nine athletes exited the opening 1.9km swim within 14 seconds. The Swiss pair of Sven Riederer and Ruedi Wild (third last year) were in that group, along with Nick Kastelein (AUS), Maurice Clavel (GER), Eric Watson (BHR), Jesper Svensson (SWE), Filipe Azevedo (POR) and Manuel Kueng (SUI).

Brownlee quickly hit the front, solo, on the bike and by 22km was already 1:19 clear of a chase group of five (Riederer, Kueng, Ackermann, Clavel, Svensson). By the 45km turn-point that lead was 2:49, and once the 90km was complete, a 1:58:51 bike split resulted in a T2 lead of over four minutes.

For me, more impressive than the time (always subject to conditions / course measurement) and the gap built, was how he looked, position wise, on his bike.

We did an analysis/review (HERE) of Alistair’s position on his new Scott Plasma bike, shortly after delivery last year. Since then, we’d seen changes made as he worked with Dan Bigham at the Derby velodrome, and today he looked the best I’ve seen him yet. New tribars / extensions and, I think, a slightly less extreme position seemed – to my eyes at least – far more comfortable, He looked strong, balanced and relaxed. His ITU cycling (where he is almost universally regarded as the stronger rider in the field), shows he has the ability, power and strength, but that requires translating to a TT position. I feel he has made a massive improvement in this regard, which bodes well for the rest of 2018.

The run saw nothing change – other than further extending his lead. Looking strong from the start to the finish, he added the fastest run split too (1:09:34), for what has to be regard as a very complete performance – and a whopping 6:35 margin of victory. Given this was achieved in his first race after recovery from surgery which ended his 2017 campaign, lots of positives to take away for the season ahead. As dominant as it was, speaking to Bahrain Endurance 13 media, it still wasn’t perfect:

“Didn’t feel great on the swim, had a couple of bad patches on the bike but on the run I just felt great, I was in control and I actually really enjoyed the last 10-18K. I was just kind of soaking it in, enjoying the cheers. Obviously it’s so fantastic to be back after too much time spent at the gym the past six months.”

Alistair has objectives this season ranging from Mixed Relay at the Commonwealth Games through to winning the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. As Tim Don said on Wednesday, if anyone can manage all of those competing targets and skill sets, it’s Alistair.

IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai – Friday 2nd February 2018
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km


1st – Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 3:35:30
2nd – Sven Riederer (SUI) – 3:42:05
3rd – Ruedi Wild (SUI) – 3:42:42
4th – Maurice Clavel (GER) – 3:43:38
5th – Nick Kastelein (AUS) – 3:44:19
6th – Ilia Prasolov (RUS) – 3:45:35
7th – Jesper Svensson (SWE) – 3:45:41
8th – Ronnie Schildknecht (SUI) – 3:47:08
9th – Bertrand Billard (FRA) – 3:47:10
10th – Kevin Maurel (FRA) – 3:47:53

17th – Will Clarke (GBR) – 3:53:39

John Levison
Written by
John Levison
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in triathlon for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages, whilst he can also be found commentating for events across the UK.
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