Bart Aernouts has taken fourth place in today’s Abu Dhabi short distance triathlon. Ronnie Schildknecht finished fifth. Bart completed the 1.5 km swim, 100 km bike leg and 10 kilometer run in 3:17:11, just 12 seconds shy of a first podium finish of the season. Ronnie’s final time was 3:17:54. British powerhouse brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee crossed the finish line together for the win while setting a new course record of 3:12:21. Ruedi Wild (Switzerland; 3:16:59) came in third.
The women’s podium was a German-Australian affair. Svenja Bazlen (Germany; 3:34:51) took the title. Annabel Luxford (Australia; 3:46:02) and Lisa Marangon (Australia; 3:46:49) finished second and third.
Bart and Ronnie made it a strong race despite the Brownlee dominance. Both started with a solid swim. Ronnie came out of the swim-bike transition in 10th position, trailing by just 2 minutes. Bart followed in 13th, 2:49 down. While the Browlee brothers extended their lead, Ronnie maintained his position in the chase group while Bart worked hard to catch up. After connecting with the group, Bart tried to break away, but it was Ronnie who was successful. He started the 10k in third position, Bart followed in fourth. Bart got close to a podium position, while Ronnie was able to hang on to fifth finish after dealing with hamstring cramps 6k into the run.
Bart Aernouts was pleased with his race, “Too bad my swim start was a little too slow to keep up with Ronnie. Then again, I did expect to lose time in the swim. The first hour on the bike I went all out. When I caught up with the group, I had spent most of my energy. I made an attempt to break away, but in the end I had to let Ronnie go solo. I tried to run as hard as possible, but Wild was just a little faster. So all in all a solid race, but not a great one. My goal is to be in top shape for the Ironman Nice in June. "
For Ronnie Schildknecht, Abu Dhabi was first of all a bike test: “Abu Dhabi was my first race of the season and I wanted to test myself on the bike in light of Ironman South Africa. In that sense, I am very happy with the race. I felt strong on the bike and was able to break away from the chase group towards the end. In the run, I probably paid the price for pushing so hard on the bike. But that was a risk I had decided to take beforehand. This was never going to be a tactical race for me. My swim was pretty solid too, so I feel like I am on track in terms of building my conditioning for South Africa.”