All on the line for a huge 2023 WTCS season on the World Triathlon blue carpet
The first race of a sizzling 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series gets underway at the start of March, with Abu Dhabi opening up this year’s WTCS action in the very city that saw fireworks fly during November’s remarkable Championship Finals.
Anyone who witnessed those men’s and women’s world championship chases reach their climax in the UAE will be hungry to see exactly what the new campaign has in store. Flora Duffy and Leo Bergere are preparing to mount their title defences after both went right down to the wire, and this year it will be the Spanish city of Pontevedra hosting the decisive Finals.
Six Series races lead up to that late-September showdown in Galicia; WTCS Abu Dhabi in early March, May’s WTCS Yokohama and WTCS Cagliari, WTCS Montreal in June then July’s classic WTCS Hamburg and a debut WTCS Sunderland, not forgetting the Paris Test Event, the points from which will also be included in the Series. The athletes’ best four results from those seven events plus the Championship Finals will ultimately determine this year’s champions.
Even at the end of a long season, heading to the 2022 Finals it was too close to call between Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown, Bergere, Hayden Wilde and Alex Yee, those five athletes dominating the year’s Series podiums. Now, with Tokyo 2020 Champion Kristian Blummenfelt and compatriot Gustav Iden back on the title hunt and Vincent Luis in sparkling form, Katie Zaferes returning for USA and Rio 2016 Champion Gwen Jorgensen also set for comebacks, plus the all-important Paris 2024 qualification points on the line and a total prize purse now standing at just under USD3.5million, the entertainment is certain to be set to stun once more.
As always, you can catch all of the action live and direct, or watch races back on demand, over on TriathlonLive.tv.
WTCS Abu Dhabi
After the standard distance action over the Bay circuit in November, it is back to sprint-distance racing on the Yas Island F1 course for 2023’s WTCS Abu Dhabi. It was here that Katie Zaferes got her title charge under way back in 2019, and the American returns for her first WTCS as a mother as she eyes Paris 2024 qualification. With Flora Duffy not racing, Georgia Taylor-Brown will want to get her campaign off to a strong start, but across the men’s and women’s fields alike, the first outing of the season is always an unpredictable affair where the off-season cobwebs are blown away but some solid season momentum can also be set in motion. Hot temperatures and hard and fast racing guaranteed.
Yokohama is one of the most established races on the circuit, dependably throwing up an Olympic-distance challenge that is fast, flat and technical, where the weather can prove to be as big an obstacle as the twists and turns out on course. Previously a firm favourite of Vincent Luis and Summer Rappaport, Duffy has won there twice, Taylor Knibb was victorious in 2021 while last year saw Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown scoop a GB one-two. Also in 2021, the Blummenfelt bellow heralded in a history-making year for the Norwegian - can the 29-year-old rediscover that magic here this year?
It was a new-look Cagliari circuit that was unveiled in 2022 as the Italian island of Sardinia made its WTCS debut with great fanfare and a challenging beach start to get the action underway. Two long straights and a handful of technical turns are the hallmarks of a flat 40km bike section, and it was over the closing stages of the run that late drama last year saw Alex Yee pulled up with cramp after taking to the front, only to shake off the pain to register the win, compatriot Georgia Taylor-Brown again doing likewise in the women’s race. Brazil’s Manoel Messias and France’s Emma Lombardi made debut Series podiums too, so who will step up to the plate in 2023?
Montreal welcomes sprint-distance racing back to Canada for the first time since 2019 after two years of the two-day Elimination format here. It was Katie Zaferes and Jelle Geens with the wins four years ago, and both will be keyed up for similar success for the city’s sixth edition of hosting the Series. The Team Mixed Relay will also return to the programme, with all eyes on the teams’ preparations for Paris 2024 where for only the second time the format hits the Olympic Games programme.
Since 2002, Hamburg has been an iconic home to top-tier triathlon brilliance, breakthroughs and beer showers. This year, for the first time, the German city will host the two day, super-sprint Eliminator format, with qualifier rounds and repechage on Friday boiling the fields down to 30 men and 30 women for the first of Saturday’s three super-charged, back-to-back super-sprints to the golds. The Elite and Junior/U23 Mixed Relay World Championships, Junior World Championships and a plethora of Age-Group World Championships will also be taking place in and around the Binnenalster Lake, making this a four-day feast of swim-bike-run.
After years of Brownlee-inspired action in Leeds, the north of England’s triathlon mecca shifts east to Sunderland for the first time in 2023. That means a 750m North Sea swim begins this fast, sprint-distance course on the sands of Roker Beach, where the weather will be as unpredictable as the podiums as the best athletes in the world tackle a challenging new addition to the circuit. The Mixed Relay added to the schedule for the Sunday will only heighten the sense of anticipation around the new location, as all is revealed around just what WTCS Sunderland has in store for the athletes.
World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra
The race to become the 2023 World Triathlon Champions will all boil down to a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run in Pontevedra, Spanish home of the 2019 Multisport World Championships and the one and only Javier Gomez. The athletes put the course through its paces when it hosted a 2022 World Cup in July, the home athletes clearly savouring the opportunity as Sergio Baxter Cabrera spearheaded a five-deep Spanish top-ten in the men’s race. It is a stunning city-centre course, largely flat with two small hills, and will provide the perfect backdrop to the crowning of this year’s World Champions.
Will it be a Spaniard for the first time since 2018? Can Duffy and Bergere repeat their massive achievements of 2022? Stay tuned to TriathlonLive.tv between now and the end of September to follow all the action on the blue carpet.
01:11 - 09 Feb, 2023
USA's Rio 2016 Olympic Triathlon Champion Gwen Jorgensen is back on the blue carpet in 202301:16 - 06 Feb, 2023