AJ Bell 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series Sunderland is the sixth leg of this year’s World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS), and the first time Sunderland has hosted the event
Heading into the event, Britain’s Beth Potter leads the way in the elite women’s category after being on the podium at three of the events so far this year. In the elite men’s category Vasco Vilaca of Portugal leads the way, and like Potter has podiumed at three of the five races so far.
The series kicked off back in March in Abu Dhabi with Great Britain securing a 1-2 in the women’s race with Potter claiming top spot ahead of fellow Brit Sophie Coldwell. America’s Taylor Spivey was a close third as she tried to catch the British duo ahead of her. In the elite men’s race it was another Brit on the top step of the podium, as Alex Yee beat Vilaca by just six seconds, with Brazil’s Manoel Messias in third.
In May the series moved onto Yokohama, Japan. Coldwell went one better than Abu Dhabi and stepped up to claim top spot. She was the only athlete to podium at the opening two races as she was joined by Mexico’s Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal and American Taylor Knibb. Yee was missing from the men’s race and in his absence Hayden Wilde, who was 46th in Abu Dhabi, claimed first place. The New Zealander was joined by Australian Matthew Hauser (second) with Vilaca taking third and his second podium in as many races.
A second WTCS race in May saw the athletes head to Cagliari in the search of Olympic ranking points ahead of next summer’s games. Potter returned to the field but could not add to her win in Abu Dhabi and finished fifth. Another Brit took top spot though, meaning three British athletes had won the opening three races, as Georgia Taylor-Brown finished ahead of France’s Emma Lombardi. Spivey returned to the podium to take bronze, as she had done in the opening race of the season. The men’s race also saw the return of the Abu Dhabi winner, with Yee claiming top spot again. Wilde was second as Leo Bergere of France took third, meaning for the first time this season Vilaca finished outside of the podium places.
In the next WTCS race, Potter returned to the top step of the podium as she out-sprinted France’s Leonie Periault, with just two seconds between the pair as they crossed the line. American Summer Rappaport was further back in third. In the men’s race, with both Yee and Wilde missing from the field, Hauser finished 11 seconds clear of second place Messias. Jelle Geens of Belgium made up the podium, securing his best finish of the season.
In what was the first of the two WTCS races in July, the athletes headed to Hamburg for super sprint triathlon racing. Potter would again be on the podium but this time she had to settle for second place behind France’s Cassandre Beaugrand. In third place was Laura Lindemann (GER), who was just two second behind Potter. The men’s race was even tighter with just two seconds covering the top three. Wilde managed to break clear to take top spot, with Vilaca beating Yee in a sprint finish to secure second and his return to the podium.
All eyes will now be on Sunderland as athletes compete for ranking points and momentum ahead of the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris next month. Beaugrand is the highest ranked athlete in the women’s race as she looks to add to her gold medal in Hamburg. She is joined by compatriot’s Lombardi and Periault, who will be looking to build on their second place finishes in Cagliari and Montreal respectively.
In the men’s race series leader Vilaca is looking for his first win of the season and lines up alongside Wilde, who could potentially move into the lead of the series in Sunderland. The pair will be joined by 2023 WTCS medallists Messias and Bergere.
Click here to read about the British athletes on the startline.
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