Tyler Butterfield celebrates the first major win of his long-course triathlon career in one of the most stacked fields ever assembled at Abu Dhabi International Triathlon. The start list of high caliber athletes included the defending World Champion, Frederik Van Lierde, one of the most performed triathletes of 2013, Eneko Llanos, and World Championship fourth place finisher, James Cunnama.
Butterfield’s win was particularly poignant as his wife Nikki won the race two years ago in 2012 carrying their infant daughter Savana across the finish line. The Butterfields continue their tradition of winning in Abu Dhabi shortly after a the birth of their children with this win coming just nine weeks after their son Walker’s arrival.
Tyler was towards the back of the group of eight that exited the three-kilometer swim together, but after a fast transition he started the 200km bike in the lead position. Cunnama set a hard bike tempo early on and Van Lierde continued the blistering pace proving why he is the current World Champion.
The run started with four strong contenders with Butterfield and France’s Sylvain Sudrie quickly showing they were running the best on the day. The pair ran together until the fifth kilometer when Butterfield gradually opened up a gap on the Frenchman. Butterfield went for the win and fought hard until he crossed the finish line.
“To win this race today was a huge honor for me”, said Butterfield. “The field had so many well-respected guys who’ve proven year after year they’re the best. I have to admit I was a little surprised I was able to pull it off. I said to my wife the night before the race that I wouldn’t be surprised if I did something, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up off the podium.”
“My training has been really up and down, and although I got in some really good training days to be able to win, they were interspersed with a lot of days off being sick. It’s hard to stay healthy in the Colorado winter, especially with our three-year-old Savana bringing home every germ possible from pre-school. I just had to keep telling myself I was making the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time, and not second-guess myself. As they say you can only do what you can do. The inconsistent training seems to work for me.”
“I really have to thank a few people, my family- both Nikki and the kids, but also my parents and brother, they’ve always supported me in anything I decide to do, and knowing they’re always at my back makes me want to continually improve. I also want to thank my sponsors – Tokio Millennium Re- simply put you’ve made my career possible; Cervélo – thank you for believing in me, both before and into the future, you were a big part of my motivation for this win. And more recently, I want to thank Zerod, Mavic and Zone3, having the best gear available makes a huge difference. Finally, I want to thank my new manager, Jacky Everaerdt – you know what you’ve done for me, the pressure and stress you’ve taken off Nikki and I was a big part of why I could just focus on racing. Thank you.”