ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — 2016 U.S. Olympian Greg Billington claimed a World Triathlon Series career-best seventh-place finish on Saturday at ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi, while Spain’s Javier Gomez returned to form as the day’s champion.
Billington (Spokane, Wash.) posted a final time of 1 hour, 54 minutes for the top-10 effort on the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run course. His previous best finish in an ITU World Triathlon Series race was 10th at the Gold Coast series stop last April. Gomez finished in 1:52:31 to claim the win after missing most of the 2016 season due to injury. Great Britain’s Tom Bishop ran with Gomez for more than half of the 10k run and finished second in 1:52:45, and Frenchman Vincent Luis rounded out the podium in 1:53:08.
The U.S. men positioned themselves at the front of the pack early on, with Olympian Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.) and Billington coming out of the water near the front to become part of the lead group of 19 on the bike. Kanute pushed the pace throughout the technical 40k bike ride, taking on a lion’s share of the work at the front of the pack, which helped the group to splinter after just a few laps. Kanute, Billington and the remaining 8 men in the lead group entered the transition area with a gap of over 1 minute on the chasers.
Once out on the run, Gomez and Bishop distanced themselves from the rest of the field, making it clear they would grab the top spots on the podium. Gomez dropped Bishop with 3k left in the run to secure his 13th career win, but Bishop hung on for his first WTS podium finish. Billington stayed in the top-10 throughout the 10k run, at one point running in fifth place before crossing the finish line in seventh to match the finish spot Katie Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.) achieved in Friday’s women’s race.
The ITU World Triathlon Series will continue in Gold Coast, Australia, on April 8-9.
ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Javier Gomez (ESP), 1:52:31
2. Tom Bishop (GBR), 1:52:45
3. Vincent Luis (FRA), 1:53:08
7. Greg Billington (Spokane, Wash.), 1:54:00
16. Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.), 1:56:08