The third race of the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series took place on the beautiful island of Sardinia, as the highest level of racing returned to Cagliari for the second consecutive season.
Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, who has endured a difficult start to the season after finishing second in the WTCS standings last year, broke away over the final kilometres of the run, taking the tape to keep the British women’s win record at 100% in the WTCS so far this season.
Behind, Emma Lombardi of France, who held on valiantly through the first three laps of the run to Taylor-Brown, finished in second, to take her second consecutive silver in Sardinia. In third, American Taylor Spivey held off a fast finishing Cassandre Beaugrand to round out the podium.
Swim – Lopes leads the field
The swim presented a number of challenges for the field early on, with a beach start into a choppy sea swim quickly separating the good swimmers from the great.
Over the first lap, American Summer Rappaport led out of the water just ahead of Brazilian Vittoria Lopes, with Dutch star Maya Kingma and French talent Lombardi also within ten seconds of the front. Britain’s Beth Potter and Taylor-Brown also had contact with the front, coming out at around 11 seconds back.
After the Aussie exit at the end of the first lap, Lopes, seemingly sensing a chance to open up the gap, pushed on over the second lap of the swim, causing the likes of Potter and French favourite Beaugrand to lose contact, with a front group of six together at the end of the swim.
Lopes led out, with Rappaport and Kingma close by, followed by Lombardi, Taylor-Brown and American Spivey. Behind, the gaps had grown significantly to some of the other potential contenders, with Beaugrand losing 15 seconds to come out +0:25 and Potter along with Katie Zaferes exiting with a deficit of close to 40 seconds.
American Gwen Jorgensen, making her first WTCS start since she announced her intention to qualify for the Paris Olympics, was close to a minute behind after the first lap of the swim, with that gap continuing to increase over the second lap, as the 2016 Olympic Gold medallist started the bike over two minutes down.
Bike – Front pack open up large gap
On to the bike, the front group of six, shepherded by Taylor-Brown, quickly began putting time into a disorganised chase pack early on, with the gap to the front increasing to well over 30 seconds after the first couple of laps.
The chase group, which included the likes of WTCS Abu Dhabi winner Potter, looked set to continue to lose time throughout the bike course unless something drastic changed, with the front pack of Taylor-Brown and co utilising the flat but technical course in Cagliari to open up a gap of 45 seconds by the halfway mark.
With seven out of the ten laps complete, the gap was now up to +1:03, with the winner and the rest of the podium looking increasingly likely to come from the front group of six, who seemed set to be rewarded for their tenacity at the front of the race.
Off the bike, the front pack had close to a minute and a half over the chasers, with +1:24 to the group that included Potter, Beaugrand and Zaferes, with Yokohama podium placer Rosa Tapia Vidal of Mexico also in that pack.
Whilst the front group made light work of the bike, the likes of Gwen Jorgensen and Junior World Champion Tilda Mansson were both lapped out of the race in the latter stages.
Run – Taylor-Brown reigns supreme
Taylor-Brown and Lombardi were the quickest off the mark out of transition, as the pair quickly opened up a gap to the rest of the original front pack from the bike, with the duo putting +0:20 into Rappaport over the first 2.5k, with Spivey, Kingma and Lopes further back.
As they neared the halfway mark, two interesting battles began to emerge, with one for the win between Taylor-Brown and Lombardi and one for third place between Rappaport and Spivey setting up an exciting final five kilometres.
At halfway, Lombardi and Taylor-Brown were locked side-by-side, with +0:36 to Spivey and +0:44 to Rappaport. Behind, Beaugrand and Jeanne Lehair of Luxembourg were motoring through the field as they caught Lopes and Kingma, but had a lot of work to get back up to the podium.
With one lap to go, however, Beaugrand and Lehair looked capable of doing the impossible, as they passed Rappaport and narrowed the gap to Spivey down to 23 seconds. Further up the road, Taylor-Brown launched another attack on Lombardi after a relentless round of surges, gapping the 21 year old with two kilometres to go.
In the end, that move proved to be decisive, as Taylor-Brown took her first win of the season, her second consecutive win in Cagliari, to maintain the British women’s 100% record in the WTCS season so far this year after Potter won in Abu Dhabi and Coldwell took the tape in Yokohama.
Lombardi held on strong for the win, as Spivey, who was being chased hard by Beaugrand, took third place with a fantastic final lap after spending all day up near the front.
WTCS Cagliari 2023 Results
Saturday May 27 2023 – ELITE WOMEN
1.5km / 38k / 10k
- 1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 1:46:43
- 2. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 1:47:07
- 3. Taylor Spivey (USA) – 1:47:36
- 4. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 1:47:44
- 5. Jeanne Lehair (LUX) – 1:48:00
- 6. Beth Potter (GBR) – 1:48:04
- 7. Summer Rappaport (USA) – 1:48:12
- 8. Lisa Tertsch (GER) – 1:48:51
- 9. Nina Eim (GER) – 1:48:55
- 10. Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal (MEX) – 1:48:57
WTCS Standings after Cagliari (Race 3)
- 1. Taylor Spivey (USA) – 2288.80
- 2. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 1895.52
- 3. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 1878.19
- 4. Summer Rappaport (USA) – 1715.75
- 5. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) – 1693.75