Beth Potter took the world championship title in emphatic style in Pontevedra, as the British star secured Olympic qualification for Paris next year by running away from the field and taking the tape at the WTCS Finals in Pontevedra in Spain.
In second place, last year’s World U23 Champion Kate Waugh took a brilliant second place, beating a whole host of established names and making an incredibly strong case for Olympic selection next year, with Frenchwoman Cassandre Beaugrand finishing in third to secure second place on the overall series podium.
For Potter, the win in Pontevedra came after a breakthrough season, where she started the year with a maiden win on the WTCS series and finished with a first world championship title, along with qualification to her second Olympic Games.
Swim – Pressure on at the front
Over the first lap of the swim in Pontevedra it was Italian Bianca Seregni who led the way, as the recent World Triathlon Cup Weihai winner had a small lead over a front pack that included Britain’s Olivia Mathias and Sophie Coldwell, plus American Summer Rappaport, at the end of the first lap.
Further back, the pre-race favourites who were battling it out for the world title, such as Britain’s Potter, Frenchwoman Cassandre Beaugrand and American Taylor Spivey were all bunched together, with the trio down +0:13 but inside the top-10 after 750m. Rio Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen, just a few seconds further back, was also having a great swim.
Over the course of the second lap, Seregni, with the help of Mathias and Dutch athlete Maya Kingma continued to put the pressure on the rest of the field, exiting the water in a small front group of ten which included Beaugrand and Spivey, but had seen Potter lose ten seconds to come out with a deficit of +0:16.
Olympic medallist Katie Zaferes, returning from childbirth and chasing an Olympic berth in Paris next year, was down +0:22 out of the water in 21st place, with her compatriot Jorgensen +0:31 in 36th place as both Americans missed the front pack, but had good company out of transition as they chased the front.
Bike – It all comes together
Over the opening couple of laps, the British quartet of Potter, Mathias, Coldwell and Kate Waugh were responsible for driving a large amount of the early work, as the leaders tried to establish a substantial lead over the chase pack on the wide and open eight lap bike circuit in Spain.
By halfway, the group had just under a minute over the chasers, with Jorgensen and Zaferes, alongside home favourite Miriam Casillas Garcia of Spain, trying to get the wheels turning in a group that seemed to lack the cohesion and communication to put in a concerted effort to make it up to the front.
Despite their initial timidity, the chasers, sensing that something needed to change over the second half of the bike, began to ramp up the pace, with Jorgensen one of the first casualties of the increased tempo as the American fell off the pace, with Casillas Garcia, plus Swiss athlete Julie Derron and German Nina Eim putting in a huge amount of work to close the gap down.
Inching closer every lap, the lead pack lost all but five seconds of their initial +0:50 lead by the time they entered transition, as a huge group of close to 35 women set out on the run together, with Potter of Britain gaining a crucial couple of seconds over Beaugrand with a lightning quick transition.
Run – Potter dominates
Setting the pace on the first lap of the run, Waugh led teammate Potter at the front, with French athlete Emma Lombardi in third, before a +0:06 gap back to Coldwell, Beaugrand and Luxembourg athlete Jeanne Lehair. Potter, looking comfortable at the front, seemed to be in pole position for the world title.
After the second lap, the front three were unchanged, with Lombardi seemingly struggling to hold the pace but Potter and Waugh looking more than comfortable at the front of the race, with Coldwell and Beaugrand falling further back to a +0:12 deficit, as Lehair fell off the pace.
On the penultimate lap, Potter and Waugh pulled clear of Lombardi, with the win looking almost certain to come from a British athlete, as the young Frenchwoman began to fall back and was passed by Beaugrand, with German Lisa Tertsch making a last gasp bid for the podium as Beaugrand continued to push onwards.
Pulling away from Waugh, Potter took a couple of glances over her shoulder on the final lap but was comfortably clear, as the 31 year old started to soak in the support on the streets of Pontevedra. Making her way down the finishing straight, Potter clinched the win and along with it her first world title.
In second, Waugh got her first WTCS podium in style, with a tremendous second, as Beaugrand overhauled Tertsch, who was agonisingly forced top serve a 15 second penalty with the finish line in site.
WTCS Finals Pontevedra Results:
Sunday September 24, 2023.
Elite Women – Olympic Distance
- 1. Beth Potter (GBR) – 1:53:19
- 2. Kate Waugh (GBR) – 1:53:37
- 3. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 1:53:50
- 4. Lisa Tertsch (GER) – 1:54:01
- 5. Rachel Klamer (NED) – 1:54:08
- 6. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 1:54:09
- 7. Sophie Coldwell (GBR) – 1:54:12
- 8. Julie Derron (SUI) – 1:54:14
- 9. Noelia Juan (ESP) – 1:54:31
- 10. Alice Betto (ITA) – 1:54:35
WTCS Final Standings
- 1. Beth Potter (GBR) – 4559 points
- 2. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) – 4411 points
- 3. Emma Lombardi (FRA) – 3792 points