Taylor-Brown looking to set a triumphant tone with Abu Dhabi 2023 Series opener
The expression on Georgia Taylor-Brown’s face at the end of the 2022 Championship Finals revealed much about the strains of a long season in which she had given it everything but, ultimately, been surpassed by one of the greatest the sport has seen.
At midday on Friday, she will look to erase that memory as the UAE once again welcomes the world’s most prestigious triathlon series, and WTCS Abu Dhabi returns to its familiar position on the race calendar as a hot-and-hard season starter. With Flora Duffy delaying her own start to ‘23, Taylor-Brown will be among the favourites for the gold when the action returns to the sprint-distance, F1 circuit course, but the battle for medals will be intense.
It’s a 750m swim in Yas Marina that gets the action underway, transitioning to a 5 x 4km lap bike course with technical turns and rolling hills, before a two-lap run to the first medals of 2023. As always, you can watch the full race live and direct from 2pm local time over on TriathlonLive.tv.
Can’t keep down Taylor-Brown
Admitting to being heartbroken in the moment of defeat, Britain’s number one knew that she could not have pushed any harder for that title in November. Now, Taylor-Brown returns to Abu Dhabi to get the new campaign underway and chasing the perfect momentum-builder into the new season.
Since 2019, the 28-year-old hasn’t finished outside the top two of a Series race, last year’s 3 golds and 3 silvers the kind of form that in any other season would guarantee the title. Duffy’s absence in Abu Dhabi may take away an external pressure on Taylor-Brown, but inside she will know that a first gold medal here is exactly what she needs.
Wearing the number two is Taylor Spivey, the American with no obvious weakness across the three disciplines but who has been battling sickness in her pursuit of peak form. Three times finishing just a place off the podium in 2022, Spivey has plenty of experience and ice in her veins at crunch time, but still seeks the debut WTCS win that, like Bergere, could see her kick on to something even more special.
French stars shooting for Paris
Cassandre Beaugrand is one of three French stars looking to find the big one-day race form that could see them peak in Paris. Three top 10 finishes here and an eye-catching sprint-distance win in Leeds last year all point to the possibility of another big display from the 25-year-old, and without the not fully fit Duffy, Maya Kingma or Taylor Knibb pushing their bike power up front, the Beaugrand run could unlock a third Series gold.
As for teammates Leonie Periault and Emma Lombardi, both have Series podiums to their names and both rounded out 2022 in excellent form, their strength across swim, bike and run making them standout candidates for further French success over a crucial next 18 months to the Olympic Games.
British duo Sophie Coldwell and Beth Potter finished 2022 6th and 7th in the world respectively and it was here at the back of 2021 that Coldwell won her second of three Series bronze medals to date. Consistently one of the fastest runners on the circuit, Potter has developed an increasingly potent swim and bike that leave her a major medal threat once more this year.
Zaferes back with a plus-one
The USA’s 2019 World Champion Katie Zaferes returns for her first WTCS start as a mother and what will be a fascinating analysis of where her form and fitness lies after 18 months away from the blue carpet. The double Olympic medallist was champion here in 2019, and will find herself in the unfamiliar position of one of the last onto the pontoon as she looks to build back her ranking and score some first Paris qualifying points.
Lena Meissner impressed here at the Championship Finals with a sparkling bronze-winning display and joins an ever growing list of German athletes regularly in and around the top 10 and ready to punch through.
As well as Meissner, Lisa Tertsch found the podium touch in 2022, while the likes of Marlene Gomez-Goggel, Annabel Knoll and Nina Eim will all be eyeing a solid season starter in perfect race conditions in Abu Dhabi.
The women’s U23 World Champion Kate Waugh, Japan’s Yuko Takahashi, Belgian Claire Michel and Spain’s Miriam Casillas Garcia have all been building up to the new season together at their training base in Portugal and hit 2023 with fresh targets and Jeanne Lehair will be eager to get her first full season racing for Luxembourg off to a strong start.
Related Event: 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi
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