World Triathlon Series: Jodie Stimpson starts new season in Abu Dhabi

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GB's Stimpson wins 2016 World Series opener
BBC coverage of the Abu Dhabi World Series
Friday 11:50-14:10: Women's elite race live on Red Button, Connected TV & online
Saturday 11:50-14:10: Men's elite race on Red Button, Connected TV & online
Sunday 13:00-14:30: Highlights on BBC Two & online

Jodie Stimpson is feeling "excited" as she prepares to return from a six-month lay-off in Friday's World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton, 28, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury after just missing out on selection for last summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

"Missing Rio was absolutely devastating," she said. "It's the worst thing I've had to go through.

"It's always going to be in the back of my head but that feeling drives me on."

Having missed the Olympics, the 2014 Commonwealth champion put her energies into winning the World Triathlon Series, only to have her hopes dashed by injury.

She makes her comeback in the first race of the new season, with qualification for the 2018 Commonwealth Games one of her priorities.

Having been based in Morzine in the French Alps with coach Darren Smith, she spent her first winter at home for eight years after switching to the British Triathlon set-up in Loughborough under head coach Ben Bright.

"It was probably my most challenging winter," said Stimpson, who won last year in Abu Dhabi.

"It was definitely a slower progression than I'm used to but things have finally started to come together and I'm excited to get out there and start the season off."

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Jonny Brownlee helped over finish line by brother Alistair in Mexico

What about the rest of the British team?

Olympic bronze medallist Vicky Holland will sit out the opening race of the season along with Non Stanford, who finished fourth in Rio. Fellow Olympian Helen Jenkins will miss the entire season as she is pregnant.

Lucy Hall, Jess Learmonth, Sophie Coldwell and Georgia Taylor-Brown will all be seeking to make an impression this year.

Of the men's team, double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee is focusing on longer half-ironman events, but will defend his World Triathlon Leeds title in his home city on 11 June.

Younger brother Jonny, the Olympic silver medallist, will focus on becoming world champion, having been pipped to the title by Mario Mola in dramatic circumstances last year. He is expected to make his series debut in Yokohama, Japan in May.

With Commonwealth places up for grabs, Gordon Benson, the third member of the Olympic men's team in Rio, Adam Bowden, Tom Bishop, Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon will seek to make their mark on the nine-race series, which reaches its conclusion with the Grand Final in Rotterdam in September.

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