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Excitement abounds on eve of WTS Bermuda

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MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda swings into high gear tonight with the opening ceremony

Front Street festivities tonight will signal the start of triathlon fever as the island marks the opening of MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda.

Bermuda’s Flora Duffy will play a minor role this year because of injury, but fans will be able to see her compete in the bike stretch of the age group relay.

Duffy will also feature as a guest commentator in both elite races.

The Royal Gazette will stream the races live, and viewers can tune in to Triathlon TV by app.

John Rankin, the Governor, declared himself “delighted” to welcome the return of the event and some of the finest triathletes in the world to Bermuda.

Mr Rankin said: “The inaugural event in 2018 was spectacular, once again confirming Bermuda as an excellent venue for major sporting events as well as a first class tourist destination.

“While Flora Duffy will not be competing, I know that she will be joining everyone else in supporting the event — she is an excellent role model not only for young triathletes on the island but for young people in Bermuda as a whole.”

David Burt, the Premier, echoed the sentiment.

Mr Burt said: “This is an international event in Bermuda, and I extend a warm welcome to all of the athletes and visitors from around the world who will be here for it.

“Bermuda is fortunate to once again experience the excitement of the World Triathlon Series and we are excited to watch some of the world’s best triathletes compete on our shores. Although our own World Triathlon Champion, Flora Duffy, will compete in a limited capacity, we are excited to see her and we will cheer her on.”

The Premier added: “Hosting this event is part of the Government’s strategy to establish Bermuda as a venue for international sporting experiences — a perfect opportunity to showcase our beauty and hospitality.

“I extend a special note of thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who give of themselves on the day to keep the racecourse safe for all.

“We wish all of the athletes a great race and trust that all of our visitors enjoy your stay in Bermuda.”

Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, asked residents to “line the streets on this fantastic occasion to give the athletes huge support and to demonstrate to all those watching elsewhere that Bermuda always rises to the big occasions”.

Mr Cannonier added: “This event has helped raise Bermuda’s profile worldwide and proves again that we are capable of hosting large sporting events, which bodes well for the future.

“It demonstrates to other organisations that they can bring their events here safe in the knowledge that we have the expertise to make sure it is a success.”

He said: “It is unfortunate that Flora Duffy is injured. I am sure she would have repeated her success of last year and I wish her a speedy recovery. But all the athletes deserve our support.”

Kendaree Burgess, executive director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the high-profile event, which “helps to underscore the Bermuda tourism strategy of increased sporting activity on island” with the “knock-on effect of increased economic activity”.

She added: “And, of course, the international visibility through broadcast keeps the Bermuda name up front and centre. Naturally, we are all interested in seeing Flora and wish her well.

“I encourage everyone to come out to watch the races, and to attend the retail event following on Sunday. It promises to be a fantastic weekend.”

Stephen Todd, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Hotel Association, said he hoped there would be a repeat of the “amazing” euphoria of last year, the first time the island had hosted the event.

He added: “This bodes very well for Bermuda as an international destination. The media coverage was amazing — you can’t pay for the value events like this bring to Bermuda and our reputation.

“It’s an event of the highest calibre and we are really pleased that it’s once again gracing our shores.”

Charles Gosling, the Mayor of Hamilton, said yesterday he “couldn’t be prouder or more thankful for the enormous effort that has been made by our staff to get Hamilton ready for its close-up and to receive the thousands of visitors, athletes and spectators to the streets of the city”.

The opening ceremony will start at 7pm today with a street festival on Front Street, where the event has been counted down on the flagpole clock.

The city was extensively repaved in 2017 to prepare it as a racecourse for elite athletes and extra work was done this year on No 1 Car Park and Park Road, with several speed bumps removed along the route.

Road closures to stage the races has meant a temporary relocation of the city’s bus terminal to Victoria Street.

More than a hundred hanging baskets and flowers around Hamilton will get more than 5,000 gallons of water to keep the blossoms looking fresh — and more than 100 pairs of flags, the Bermuda flag and Union Jack, will flutter around the city.

The Cabinet Office lawn on Front Street will be the venue for an international fun zone for spectators and athletes and the Belco family fun zone with vendors and entertainment will give families a free vantage point of the course up Corkscrew Hill.

No 1 Car Park will also offer free viewing of the finish line, the scene of Duffy’s record-breaking win last year.

Other highlights include the RenaissanceRe kids duathlon tomorrow at 6.30pm.

Race Day will dominate Saturday with the harbour swim, biking up Corkscrew Hill and the run through Hamilton.

The Amateur Age Group races kick off at 7am, while the Elite Men’s Race sets off at 1pm, and the Elite Women’s Race kicks off at 4pm.

Telecoms firm Digicel has organised an after-race party scheduled to start at 6.30pm

To read where to watch the races and the trash collection schedule for Hamilton during the Triathlon, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda swings into high gear tonight with the opening ceremony
Strong support: organisers and sponsors of the 2019 MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda participated in a pep rally at City Hall, Hamilton (Photograph by Akil Simmons)