Triathlon world waits and wonders as Yokohama gets Series underway with Paris points in play

by on 10 May, 2024 09:31 • Español
Triathlon world waits and wonders as Yokohama gets Series underway with Paris points in play

Yokohama is ready to get the 2024 World Triathlon Championship Series rolling on Saturday morning, and anticipation is running red hot with the prospect of an almighty first Olympic-distance test for the athletes in this huge year for the sport.

We may be missing last year’s World Champion Beth Potter and runner-up Cassandre Beaugrand, both with their Paris 2024 tickets effectively stamped, but with the return of defending Olympic Champion Flora Duffy going up against the Rio 2016 champion Gwen Jorgensen for the first time in eight years, this is set to be a race to savour.

For the US athletes, a podium here will mean auto qualification for Paris, something that, remarkably, all five of those on the start line have achieved. It is the same target for the Italians, while for the Australians, a top eight finish will suffice. Buckle up for two hours of entertainment as this fast and furious 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run gets underway at 10.15am local time on 11 May, all on

Flying French finding their feet

Wearing the number one for the first time in a WTCS will be Emma Lombardi. Still just 22-years-old, the overall Series bronze medallist in 2023 took fourth in the Test Event after a career-best silver at WTCS Sunderland. It was on WTCS debut here in 2022 that the French star announced her arrival with a stunning race to finish just off the podium behind Flora Duffy. A first Series gold is surely incoming, and this would be a huge moment to achieve it.

Looking to join Lombardi and Beaugrand for a precious home Games is Leonie Periault. Chasing her best form after an injury-impacted campaign last year, it was also here two years ago she recorded her career-best silver, but consolidating her position in the Olympic Ranking top 30 and that third French spot on the start line will be the goal here.

Huge test awaits for returning Duffy

The 2021 World and Olympic Champion Flora Duffy was sadly absent from the blue carpet for the whole of 2023 as a knee injury kept her from racing. Yokohama marks her first action since retaining her world title at the 2022 Championship Finals Abu Dhabi, and it will be fascinating to see how she stands up to the exertions of an Olympic distance return and how far she can push it on the 10km run.

The last time Duffy and Gwen Jorgensen shared a start line was the 2016 Grand Final Cozumel, finishing first and second respectively. Here, Jorgensen knows that a podium finish – and above any other US athlete - is required to complete her remarkable comeback to the top and qualify for Paris 2024. If 2023 was marked by some vintage performances on the World Cup circuit, then this year demands the same but at the top tier.

The same goal stands in front of fellow Americans Taylor Spivey, Summer Rappaport and Kirsten Kasper, all of whom have hit the podium here, though none have scooped gold. Taylor Knibb has won Yokohama gold, back in 2021, and with her Olympic place assured she can take a more relaxed approach. For Rappaport, two silvers in 2019 and 2021 underline her love of racing in Japan, and it all adds up to what could be a fascinating finale over the closing stages this time around.

Waugh looking for medal momentum

It may have been teammate Sophie Coldwell taking the headlines here 12 months ago, but a then-career-best fifth for Kate Waugh showed her intentions among a strong British women’s team. Fast forward to the season-closer in Pontevedra and an outstanding silver has helped her into 16th in the Olympic Rankings and in firm contention for a slot on the team. The mission for Yokohama 2024 is clear, a medal would be an incredible statement.

Waugh Spivey Yokohama

Germany’s trio of Olympic qualifiers Laura Lindemann, Lisa Tertsch and Nina Eim all start on a course that has historically not held much success for them. Lindemann’s three 10th-place finishes in 2016, 2018 and 2019 are the best of the bunch to date. Now would be a great time to break that voodoo.

Mexico’s surprise package of 2023 was Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal, earning second in that rain-soaked race, but the queen of consistency in Yokohama has been Netherlands Maya Kingma, finishing 6th, 5th, 3rd and 7th in her four races here.

For the Australian women Natalie Van Coevorden, Sophie Linn, Jaz Hedgeland and Charlotte McShane, a top 8 finish would be enough to book their spot on the Paris start line, otherwise it will go down to the rankings at the end of the month.

So much on the line, one massive Olympic distance test lies ahead.

WTCS Yokohama
11 May, 10.15am local time

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Related Event: 2024 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama
11 May, 2024 • event pageall results
Results: Elite Men
1. Morgan Pearson USA 01:42:05
2. Matthew Hauser AUS 01:42:12
3. Luke Willian AUS 01:42:20
4. Léo Bergere FRA 01:42:26
5. Charles Paquet CAN 01:42:30
Results: Elite Women
1. Leonie Periault FRA 01:52:28
2. Taylor Knibb USA 01:53:04
3. Emma Lombardi FRA 01:53:08
4. Taylor Spivey USA 01:53:25
5. Kirsten Kasper USA 01:53:34
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