Butterfield, Egyed take on top triathlon pros

Bermuda's former professional cyclist Tyler Butterfield and his soon wife-to-be, Nikki Egyed, have confirmed they will race in next weekend's international Escape to Bermuda Triathlon.

And also in the field will be Bermuda's Olympian Flora Duffy who will compete as a swimmer on a team in the Open event.

Butterfield, who will marry Egyed just a week after next weekend's event, recently left his professional cycling team in France to resume his education in Colorado and now intends to again make triathlon his main sport.


Bermuda's former professional cyclist Tyler Butterfield and his soon wife-to-be, Nikki Egyed, have confirmed they will race in next weekend's international Escape to Bermuda Triathlon.

And also in the field will be Bermuda's Olympian Flora Duffy who will compete as a swimmer on a team in the Open event.

Butterfield, who will marry Egyed just a week after next weekend's event, recently left his professional cycling team in France to resume his education in Colorado and now intends to again make triathlon his main sport.

His fiancee Egyed, winner of the recent PartnerRe Women's Road Race, is still a professional cyclist.

Both will compete in the pro division of next Sunday's pro event, which has attracted top cyclists from around the world.

Over the past few years Butterfield has focused on building a cycling career but despite some success in that sport, including an overall win in the CDP Grand Prix in 2006, he found the going tough and recently indicated that he wanted to focus on triathlon and hopes to move up to the much longer Ironman distance, starting with the New Zealand Ironman in March next year at which he hopes to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October, 2009.

Other than the 2007 Bank of Bermuda Triathlon, he hasn't participated in triathlon since the 2004 Athens Olympics.

As a youngster, he enjoyed outstanding results including a bronze medal as a junior in the 2002 Junior World Championships and a 14th place finish in the same year at the Commonwealth Games at the age of 19.

His achievements in the sport earned him a Bermuda Sportsperson of the Year award.

He then moved up to the professional division, competing on the International Triathlon Union World Cup circuit.

His pro career culminated in a 35th place finish at the Athens Games in 2004.

However, his swim leg let him down on the ITU World Cup Circuit as he often trailed the lead group out of the water and with pack cycling permitted, it was usually an almost impossible task to catch the leading group of riders.

Next week's event offers him an opportunity to relaunch his career here in Bermuda and he's clearly delighted.

"To be able to race across the Island as a professional triathlete for the first time is awesome", said Butterfield.

Both Nikki and I are really excited. I heard so much about the international triathlons in Bermuda in the 1980s and early 1990s and last year's Escape to Bermuda Triathlon."

The hilly Escape to Bermuda bike course will suit Butterfield as unlike the ITU World Cup circuit, pack riding (drafting) is not permitted on the 26-mile bike leg and the hilly run course will also be to Butterfield's liking as he has always been a strong runner.

Realistically, Butterfield will find the competition tough as he is in the early stages of rebuilding his triathlon career and will most likely be trailing the leading athletes by a few minutes after the swim.

However, he's confident that even with only three months of base training in the swim and run under his belt, he can hold his own in the professional field.

"I think I will lose time on the swim, bike and run to the leading triathletes such as Matt (Reed) and Chris (McCormack)," said Butterfield. "But I can hold my own against most of the professional triathletes. Racing at home will inspire me and I often surprise myself on big occasions.

"My base fitness is pretty good and so long as this weekend's Caribbean Cycling Championships (in St. Vincent) don't take too much out of me, I think I can finish strongly on the run."

Following a very short but successful triathlon career, Australian Egyed, like Tyler, turned her attention to professional cycling and has established herself as a leading rider, finishing 15th in last month's Cycling World Championships.

As a triathlete, she produced some outstanding results, picking up gold medals in the 2001 Australian Junior Triathlon Championships, the Elite Under-23 World Triathlon Championships in 2003 and the 2005 Australian Long Course Triathlon Championships as well as achieving numerous other podium results.

In 2006, she moved over to cycling.

Egyed, who is currently resting in Bermuda after a long cycling season, made a last minute decision to enter the Escape to Bermuda Triathlon and without any real specific swimming and run training will also find the going tough against a strong professional women's field.

Butterfield, however, is confident that she will perform well and believes she could be among the leaders going into the run.

"Nikki's base fitness is probably stronger than mine and I expect her to catch most of the field on the bike. If she does then she is the kind of athlete who will be pumped up by going into the run amongst the leaders. The question is whether she can keep it going for 10 kilometres."

Duffy, who suffered a disappointing elimination at August's Beijing Olympics, is still building her base for the new triathlon season and will be participating in the swim portion with her team.

With just over a week to go to the main event and the shorter Rubis Triathlon a day before at Clearwater, organisers believe everything is in place.

The event is a big undertaking with over 300 volunteers, mostly manning road intersections on the 26-mile bike course from Dockyard to St. George's Square.

Race director Neil de ste Croix has been delighted with the local turnout with some 60 locals already signed up for next Sunday's event as well as a number of teams and many juniors and a good number of adults, including some overseas entries, participating in the Rubis Triathlon.

Over 150 overseas amateurs and 22 overseas professional triathletes will start arriving in Bermuda next week with the Fairmont Southampton Princess as the base hotel for most of the athletes.

"We hope the Island will come out to support the event," said a spokesman for race promoters IMG and the Bermuda Triathlon Association.

"The bike leg runs from Dockyard to Barnes Corner and along South Shore to Paynters Road and then along Harrington Sound, across the Causeway to St. George's Square, so Bermudians who live along the course can certainly support the athletes.

More information on next weekend's races can be obtained on the website, www.escapetobermudatriathlon.com

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