The women’s 2023 WTCS season has been unpredictable, the action relentless, and there is one final day of drama still to come as the world title chase all comes down to the World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra on Sunday 24 September.
If we can be sure of one thing, it is that the Finals will see a brand-new women’s world champion ordained, but who is still in the running to take Flora Duffy’s crown? With the stars of 2022’s Finals Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown out of contention through injuries, of this year’s four prime contenders only the 2021 Series bronze winner Taylor Spivey (USA) has hit the overall podium before.
It is, however, Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) and Beth Potter (GBR) with their fates in their own hands heading to the decider in north-west Spain. Having shared the spotlight for most of the year, victory for either in Spain guarantees them the title, while Emma Lombardi of France lies third in the rankings, Spivey fourth, both still well within reach.
That is largely because gold at the Championship Finals is again worth 1250 points, that amount decreasing by 7.5% per position thereafter. The points gained in Pontevedra will be added to each athlete’s four best scores from the rest of the Series (including Paris Test Event) to determine the final standings and, ultimately, our 2023 World Champion.
Beaugrand leads the way
A slender 32-point lead going into the Final leaves Cassandre Beaugrand knowing that victory would be enough to land the title. Wins in Sunderland and Hamburg, silver in the Paris test Event and 4th in Cagliari have helped take her to 3341 points and one more gold medal away from becoming World Champion.
A steely confidence has flown through Beaugrand all year. First emerging in the top tier back in 2018 with her debut Series win in Hamburg, it was back again in that Leeds win last year, as well as in countless contributions to a dominant French Mixed Relay squad. The focus is on, the title could well follow.
Potter’s potential double prize
Beth Potter has put together three excellent wins this term but Championship Finals are the moments that can outshine all that has gone before. The career-first in Abu Dhabi and then in Montreal were both over the sprint distance and as such worth 750 points, compared to the 1000 earned for her Olympic-distance victory in Paris.
Those wins, plus the Hamburg silver, count towards the 3309 points total that the 31-year-old takes into Pontevedra. A largely flat course awaits, just the kind that she devoured in Paris, and race management could again be the key to even greater success here with both the world title and a place on next year’s Olympic start list on the line.
Lombardi and Spivey keep pressure on
So whoever crosses first out of the top two will take the title, down to fifth-place or lower finishes for both, from which point a win for Emma Lombardi would see her leapfrog them and take the title. A win for Taylor Spivey, third or lower from Lombardi and Beaugrand and Potter outside the top 7 would see her become world champion.
Lombardi may still be waiting for her first WTCS gold but, like compatriot Leo Bergere last year, greater consistency this campaign leaves her within touching distance of a title should she be able to summon that debut win in Pontevedra.
Silvers in Cagliari and Sunderland, 4th place in Paris and 9th in Yokohama leave the 22-year-old almost 400 points short of teammate Beaugrand – some 40 more than Bergere made up for his huge win in Abu Dhabi last year.
The USA’s Taylor Spivey finds herself another 110 points back after struggling to rediscover the medal touch of her season-opening bronze. 4th in Yokohama, another 3rd in Cagliari and 7th place in Hamburg make the prospect of a title challenge slim, but far from impossible, should she be able to pull out that as-yet elusive Series win on the biggest stage of them all.
Then there are, of course, the numerous permutations for points and positions depending not just on these four athletes, but on the performances and placing of the firepower found further down the start list. Expect the likes of Summer Rappaport, Jeanne Lehair and Sophie Coldwell, Laura Lindemann and a resurgent Gwen Jorgensen to still have a big say on the outcome of the season.
Ahead of a race that is too close to call only one thing is for certain – 2023 will see a first-time champion writing their name into the history of the sport.
Final standings simulation
Who needs what to be crowned world champion