The chase to become the women’s 2023 World Triathlon Champion began in the heat of WTCS Abu Dhabi back in March, taking in eight scoring races in total across seven months of action: six Series events plus the Championship Finals and the Paris Test Event.
Just two nations shared the top of the podium in all of those, as Great Britain and France dominated the women’s medals all year, but the story doesn’t begin and end there, as the entertainment flowed and reputations were forged right down the results sheets.
While Britain’s Beth Potter (4), Sophie Coldwell (1), Georgia Taylor-Brown (1) and Cassandre Beaugrand (2) of France won all the golds between them in 2023, USA, Germany and Mexico stars also featured among the medals, but there were two athletes very much in the box seats as the season reached its zenith and a Pontevedra showdown.
Victory in the Championship Finals for Potter or Beaugrand would guarantee either the title. The pair were locked together on lap one of the swim, before the French star found a little daylight on lap two. But Potter was back alongside her rival by the end of the first bike lap and then pulled clear over the run to deliver a famous first world title, Beaugrand with overall silver, Emma Lombardi the bronze in only her second year at the top level. Here’s how a rollercoaster 2023 season played out…
Potter and Coldwell kick off season in style for GB
Straight into the front pack out of the first swim of the Series was exactly the kind of start that Beth Potter would have been aiming for, Beaugrand uncharacteristically dropping back into the chasers with Taylor-Brown and unable to haul themselves into contention as Potter pulled clear of Coldwell to win her first Series gold.
It would be Coldwell’s turn to get a first taste of Series gold in Yokohama, where Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal (MEX) ran her way to silver, Taylor Knibb (USA) bronze, before Taylor-Brown made it three-from-three for British athletes with a now familiar gold in Cagliari, Emma Lombardi (FRA) and Taylor Spivey (USA) joining her on the podium.
Beaugrand’s star on the rise
WTCS Montreal saw another GB-France-USA podium, this time Potter taking gold after edging out Leonie Periault down the blue carpet, Summer Rappaport with bronze. That was Beaugrand’s cue to begin her assault on the medals, firstly with an imperious trio of super-sprint races to win WTCS Hamburg gold ahead of Potter and Laura Lindemann (GER), then soaring to WTCS Sunderland gold ahead of Lombardi and Annika Koch (GER).
Victory at the Paris Test Event both took Potter into the lead in the hunt for the world title and delivered the precious confidence boost of out-running Beaugrand over the final stages that cannot be measured in terms of Olympic preparations, Lindemann in third.
All on the line for Spanish showdown
The Championship Finals Pontevedra remained a straight shootout for the world title between the two women who had dominated the 2023 Series, and again it was the steely determination of Beth Potter that helped her see out the win, Kate Waugh right with her all the way to the final few hundred metres and winning a first Series silver, Beaugrand just falling short in third, retaining overall Series silver.
It was Emma Lombardi with the Series bronze and a major move towards securing her place on the Paris 2024 start line alongside Beaugrand as they start their preparations for the massive occasion of a home Olympics.