WTCS Hamburg 2022: Flora Duffy overcomes penalty to win a thriller

Flora Duffy added yet another memorable performance with a thrilling victory ahead of Beth Potter

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Flora Duffy (BER) collected a penalty in T1, delivered perhaps the worst T2 of her career and yet still claimed a 13th career WTCS victory at World Triathlon Championship Series Hamburg on Saturday.

Once again, the German city produced an absolute thriller – and after seventh in Leeds, Duffy is well and truly back.

[CLICK HERE FOR THE ELITE MEN’S REPORT FROM HAMBURG]

Swim – wetsuit free

The opening 750m swim in the Binnenalster in the heart of the port city of Hamburg is one of the most iconic in the sport. It features a 40m long dark tunnel under a bridge on the return leg towards T1. Warm water temperatures of 20.4 degrees meant a wetsuit-free start to the day for the athletes, with air temperatures of 22.5 degrees providing perfect triathlon conditions in Germany.

With the first 90-degree turn coming just 270m into the race, the first couple of minutes could potentially be key to reducing your chances of significant physical contact around that first buoy. A few athletes seemingly a little slow off of the pontoon was not going to help their cause.

No Cassandre Beaugrand today, one of the frequent swim leaders in WTCS events, but still plenty of familiar names at the front in the water. Vittoria Lopes (BRA), Summer Rappaport (USA) and Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN) were among those stretching out the field.

Rappaport, Lopes and Sian Rainsley (GBR) were the first up the exit ramp, with Duffy seven seconds back in seventh. Kate Waugh (GBR) and Beth Potter (GBR) were 14 seconds behind the leader Rappaport in 16th/17th and would want a solid first couple of kilometres on the bike to get back into that leading group.

Looking back at our pre-race picks for the top positions, Laura Lindemann (GER) (+11secs) was well placed, but Emma Lombardi (FRA) was already 48 seconds down. Add a disaster of a T1, and this was not going to be her day.

Bike – And then there were 15…

Winner here in 2017, Duffy was to the fore very early on the bike, looking to force a breakaway. Initially part of a group of eight athletes – not including Potter – that tactic was showing promise.

It didn’t last however, and with the chase group benefitting from the cycle strength of Leeds 2021 winner, Maya Kingma (NED), by the midpoint of the ride we had a leading group of 15 more than 30 seconds clear. The podium was going to come from that front pack for certain. All three Brits racing – Rainsley, Waugh, Potter – were in the leading pack.

Biggest news however was that Duffy would have a 10-second penalty to serve on the run course for a T1 infringement, swim goggles left outside of the transition box. With just 5km of running – and Potter and Lindemann in the group, among others – that could be very significant.

Kingma was the first of the 15 athletes into T2 and Duffy again was having a bit of shocker, the final athlete from that group out onto the run course. Highly unusual.

Run – Fantastic Flora produces yet again

As the run settled in the first kilometre, it was Arena Games Singapore winner, Bragmayer, leading the way.

Despite a transition nightmare today, Duffy is made of tough stuff and leapfrogged from 15th to first. Beth Potter was just a couple of seconds down, with Duffy surely trying to gain the required advantage over the Brit in order to overcome that 10 second penalty. Could she gain the time – and would she take that at the end of lap one or lap two?

Duffy took the penalty just at the end of lap one, and that meant that Potter would start the final lap of 2.5km with a six seconds advantage over the three-time World Triathlon Champion and reigning Olympic and Commonwealth gold medallist. What a finish we had in store. Potter of course was an Olympian over the 10,000m in Rio.

Duffy reduced the gap all through the second lap, the Bermudian closing on the Brit with the finish line approaching fast. This was another incredible Hamburg finish coming up. Duffy closed the gap, went straight past but would be well aware of the track background of the British athlete and pushed on.

Potter couldn’t fight back though, and if we didn’t know it already, Duffy showed once again this she is without question one of the all-time greats of this sport. That was a 13th WTCS win.

Asked afterwards if it was one of the most satisfying, she said: “Yeah, for sure. I gave everything out there and am super pumped to take a win after this year. 

“It started off so weird with two times Covid, flying to races and my equipment not making it. I’m pumped to get myself back in the series and excited for the rest of the year.”

From fifth in Leeds to third in Montreal, Beth Potter continues with the progress that we have been following closely to take a second career WTCS podium and her best yet. Behind, Germany’s Lisa Tertsch completed the podium, her first at WTCS level.

WTCS Hamburg 2022 Results

Saturday July 9 2022 – ELITE WOMEN
750m / 20k / 5k

  • 1. Flora Duffy (BER) – 58:37
  • 2. Beth Potter (GBR) – 58:43
  • 3. Lisa Tertsch (GER) – 58:53
  • 4. Taylor Spivey (USA) – 58:58
  • 5. Laura Lindemann (GER) – 59:00
  • 6. Anabel Knoll GER) – 59:03
  • 7. Maya Kingma (NED) – 59:06
  • 8. Sian Rainsley (GBR) – 59:08
  • 9. Nina Eim (GER) – 59:09
  • 10. Emy Legault (CAN) – 59:11
  • 11. Zsanett Bragmayer (HUN) – 59:15
  • 12. Kate Waugh (GBR) – 59:23

WTCS Rankings Standings after Hamburg

  • 1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 3850
  • 2. Flora Duffy (BER) – 3482
  • 3. Beth Potter (GBR) – 3139
  • 4. Taylor Spivey (USA) – 2838
  • 5. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 2602 **

(** Only three races to date – everyone else in the top five has four scores included)

John Levison
Article by
TRI247's Chief Correspondent, John has been involved in the sport for well over 30 years, 15 of those writing on these pages. He's also a familiar voice in commentary at major events, including the recent Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. While his passion is triathlon, you'll also find him watching Boxing, Darts or at the theatre enjoying a good musical...
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