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Olympic champion takes WTCS Cagliari ‘positives’ as Paris title defence draws closer

Flora Duffy put together another strong performance at WTCS Cagliari to record her second consecutive WTCS Top 10 finish.

Staff Reporter
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Flora Duffy rounded out her return to racing with a solid result at WTCS Cagliari, where the reigning Olympic champion finished eighth, a fortnight after a seventh place finish at WTCS Yokohama.

The Boulder-based pro, who prior to this month had not raced in over 500 days, has regained her position as part of the front pack in the swim and the bike, with her run form coming along gradually.

With just over nine weeks until the Paris Olympic Games, the 36-year-old looks ready to challenge for a medal in the French capital and underline once again why she is one of the very best short-course athletes of all time.

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“There were a lot of positives from today”

Reflecting on her race, Duffy said that there was plenty to takeaway from her performance, after the Bermudian executed a strong swim-bike and rallied on the second half of the run.

Flora Duffy on the run at WTCS Cagliari 2024
[Photo Credit: World Triathlon / @by_wout]

“It might not look it from the outside, but there was lots of positives to takeaway from today. Except for my first lap of the run! Thankfully I found my run legs eventually and finished up 8th place.”

Whilst on paper it may not appear to be a better result than Yokohama, the strength of field was much higher in Cagliari, with Olympic medalists Katie Zaferes and Georgia Taylor-Brown, plus world champion Beth Potter racing.

Additionally, Duffy was much closer to the front in Cagliari, finishing +0:43 behind winner Cassandre Beaugrand. In Yokohama, she was +1:10 behind Leonie Periault, who won the race.

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A reminder of the Olympic dream

As the last race of the Olympic qualifying window, the finish line at WTCS Cagliari was full of heartbreak and ecstasy, with several athletes either achieving their lifelong dreams or falling just short.

Despite already having qualified for the Games, the emotions on display reminded the four-time Olympian of the significance of the event and everything that is at stake.

“Today was a reminder of how much the Olympic dream means to so many. Although I did not have Olympic selection on the line today, many did. So many emotions. I admire all those who dreamt, pursued and put themselves out there.”

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Can Duffy still win gold?

With 65 days to go until the women’s race in Paris, the Olympic champion will be doing everything she can to find those marginal gains to put herself in contention on race day.

Whilst even at her best she may lack the foot speed to compete with Potter, Beaugrand or German Lisa Tertsch on the run, the race dynamics in July could offer an opportunity for Duffy to get one step ahead.

Taylor Knibb and Flora Duffy lead the bike pack at WTCS Cagliari 2024
]Photo Credit: World Triathlon / @by_wout]

Looking likely to join her in Paris are phenomenal swim-bikers such as Taylor Knibb of the USA, Maya Kingma of the Netherlands and Vittoria Lopes of Brazil, plus potentially British stars Georgia Taylor-Brown and Sophie Coldwell.

After seeing Potter and Beaugrand dominate at the Paris Test event last year, Duffy and co will know that a breakaway on the bike will massively boost their chances of a medal on race day.

With an extra nine weeks of training, a strong group of likeminded athletes on the start line, plus a little luck in making a breakaway stick, Duffy adds another dimension to the race and can undoubtedly defend her Olympic title.

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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