The permutations for who can become the next women’s World Triathlon Champion out of a possible (mathematically at least) nine athletes are complex, but one fact shines through them all; by Sunday evening, we will have brand new World Champ standing on top of the podium.
This year’s title chase began where last year’s finished up, in the heat of Abu Dhabi. It was there in March that Beth Potter rose to her first WTCS win, since when the action has gone on to hit Yokohama, Cagliari, Montreal, Hamburg, Sunderland and a certain Paris Test Event.
Seven events offering Series points, four different champions across the season to date, one huge title-decider left and two athletes – Cassandre Beaugrand of France and GB’s Potter – who know that one more gold in Spain on Sunday and the title is theirs.
What lies ahead is an Olympic-distance challenge of 1500m swim, a tricky 8 x 5km lap bike with a sharp climb and speed bumps, then 4 x 2.5km run through the beautiful old town. It’s the kind of course Beaugrand and Potter have hoovered up in 2023, but throw in the unpredictability of the local Galician weather, the resurgence of some big-race specialists and the unique pressures of a world title chase, and anything can happen.
Full coverage on TriathlonLIVE.tv begins at 16:30 CEST on Sunday 24 September.
Opportunity knocks for Beaugrand and Potter
It is hard to know what kind of indication the closing stages of Paris Test Event gives us for the two women with destiny in their own hands in Pontevedra. Shoulder-to-shoulder for much of the 10km run, it was perhaps surprising it was Potter who had enough left in the tank to kick on for her third win of the year even as the crowds screamed for a French winner.
But Beaugrand was on fire in Hamburg, making the full-focus demands of that gruelling super-sprint format look almost easy. All the reserves that she needed to dip into in Germany will be called for again in Pontevedra, the tactics over the 40km bike could be decisive as the pair seek prime position to attack out of T2.
Lombardi and Spivey ready to pounce
Emma Lombardi has been quietly putting together the best season to date in her still fledgling career. Two years on from winning the U23 World title, she has scored a familiar silver in Cagliari and again in Sunderland, 4th in Paris and top 10s in Abu Dhabi and Yokohama. Her best results often come over the Olympic distance, and this could yet be the 22-year-old’s day.
USA’s Taylor Spivey would doubtless love to trade in the numerous medals she has won knocking on the door of that first WTCS gold for a win in Pontevedra. Outside the top 10 just once since the start of 2018, now is the time to upgrade all that consistency for a big finish if she is to make a bid for that. World title.
Stars of the Series chase a big finish
For the likes of Summer Rappaport and Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal, there are surely too many results that need to swing for them to stand a chance of the title, but they know well what it takes to win a Series medal and that could be all that it takes to blow the title chase wide open.
Jeanne Lehair has put together a brilliant campaign in her first full season in the colours of Luxembourg, and would likewise love to play a role in how the world champion is decided if it is not to be her year. Lehair hung tough for a long time with Beaugrand over the 10km run in Cagliari and the European Champion has the firepower to medal again here.
Britain’s Sophie Coldwell is the only woman on the start other than the top two to have won in 2023, her debut WTCS Yokohama win following up a fine Abu Dhabi silver. A strong German contingent has been hitting the headlines more recently, Nina Eim and Laura Lindemann securing their Paris 2024 starts with brilliant displays in Paris, Annika Koch also in electrifying form in Hamburg and Sunderland.
Zaferes and Jorgensen make long-awaited returns to Finals
Katie Zaferes and Gwen Jorgensen continue their eye-catching returns to the blue carpet, 2019 World Champion Zaferes scoring a fifth-place in Montreal while Jorgensen brings with her the winning feeling once again, back-to-back World Cup golds over this distance that will have fuelled the fire inside as both chase an Olympic starting place for Team USA.
Elsewhere, Maya Kingma returns after a long injury lay-off, Nicole Van Der Kaay (NZL) will be looking for a big showing after an accident last month and a fully fit Leonie Periault of France should have a big say on the race outcome over the closing stages.
Full start list available here.