It had been 10 years since a European women had won a WTCS race in Yokohama, but Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown ended that statistic on Saturday in Japan.
Navigating the wet roads and crashes, the Olympic gold and silver medallist controlled the run to top the podium and now lead the Maurice Lacroix World Triathlon Championship Series Rankings.
Swim: all together
A 19.7 degree water temperature in Yokohama Bay meant a wetsuit-legal swim for the two-loop, 1.5km course in Japan, No Jess Learmonth here after her problems last week at the Arena Games Singapore, but there were still plenty of the expected favourites towards the front, through the first loop.
A total of 43 athletes started the second lap within 43 seconds in a quirk of symmetry, with Flora Duffy (BER), Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA), Laura Lindemann (GER) and Maya Kingma (NED) along those leading the way. In a brilliant position too was Beth Potter, the British Esports World Champion, following her Arena Games Triathlon Series efforts.
As they left the water at the end of lap two, Beaugrand and Kingma reached the exit ramp first, but with 25 athletes within 20 seconds, that first transition and the early stages of the bike would be key to determining whether a breakaway would form.
Bike: breakaway nine take control
The forecast wet conditions did arrive, resulting in a revised bike course around the docks area to improve safety and remove some of the most technical sections. That said, the roads used featured vast amounts of white lines lines and road crossings. Fingers crossed that everyone would stay upright.
Alas, that would not be the case and on a straight section of road, Laura Lindemann – winner in Hamburg – hit the tarmac, taking an unfortunate Cassandre Beaugrand with her. A heavy impact, and the French athlete – so impressive recently at Arena Games London – was out of the race along with the German.
Along with the pace being set at the front, the race was being blown apart. At the end of lap three, there was a leading nine on the bike of Knibb, Duffy, Taylor-Brown, Kingma, Kirsten Kasper, Leonie Periault, Anabel Knoll, Emma Lombardi and Taylor Spivey. With such quality almost a minute clear already and pulling away, it was going to be very difficult for anyone else to challenge for the podium.
Beth Potter, after being in a great position out of the water, was one of the athletes dropped from the leading pack in the early stages.
The dominance of that leading group continued to build a huge lead which they extended every lap, with Knibb, Kingma and Duffy in particular continuing to work hard, perhaps wanting to further reduce the size of that lead pack. Periault was keeping her powder dry – was that due to the pace being set or trying to save her legs for the run?
With one lap to go, the leading pack included the World Champion, Commonwealth champion, Olympic gold and silver medallists (individual), Olympic gold, silver and bronze medallists (mixed relay), Grand Final winner, World Triathlon Rankings #1 and U23 World Champion. With a massive lead, it was set to be a tough 10km to decide the podium.
Run: Taylor-Brown takes the win
Unusually, Duffy had a poor transition, ‘matched’ only by Knibb who was even slower and struggling.
Anabel Knoll was first onto the run course, but perhaps sensing the slow transitions from the previous Yokohama winners, Taylor-Brown soon moved to the front in a ‘catch me if you can’ manner. Quickly into her running, her stride looked fantastic. She was seven seconds clear of Duffy, Lombardi, Periault and Kingma after 2.5km. This was an impressive WTCS debut for Lombardi, who recently pushed Potter close at the European Triathlon Cup in Quarteira.
Fast forward 2.5km, and GTB’s advantage had been extinguished, leaving a leading group of five set to compete for the win over the closing 5km. The Brit wasn’t fading however, and as they started the final lap just over eight minutes later, Taylor-Brown and Periault had broken clear.
Over the next couple of minutes, GTB ramped up the pace further in an attempt to drop the French athlete – and did just that.
“I really suffered, I went out hard and thought, ‘If I die, I die’.”
Georgia also now takes over the WTCS Series lead following this result.
WTCS Yokohama 2022 Results
Saturday May 14 2021 – ELITE WOMEN
1.5km / 40k / 10k
- 1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 1:51:44
- 2. Leonie Periault (FRA) – 1:51:50
- 3. Flora Duffy (BER) – 1:51:55
- 4. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 1:52:03
- 5. Maya Kingma (FRA) – 1:52:12
- 6. Taylor Knibb (USA) – 1:53:00
- 7. Anabel Knoll (GER) – 1:53:38
- 8. Taylor Spivey (USA) – 1:54:36
- 9. Kirsten Kasper (USA) – 1:55:18
- 10. Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP) – 1:55:38
- 11. Beth Potter (GBR) – 1:55:55
- 16. Sian Rainsely (GBR) – 1:56:39
WTCS Rankings after Yokohama
- 1. Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) – 1925 points
- 2. Flora Duffy (BER) – 1856 points
- 3. Taylor Knibb (USA) – 1409 points
- 4. Sian Rainsley (GBR) – 1209 points
- 5. Erika Ackerlund (USA) – 1168 points