It all began back in September 2021 in Germany’s home of triathlon, Hamburg. Since then, the 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series has taken in 8 stops, seen a total of 126 women chasing the year’s biggest prize, and looks set to boil down to a straight shootout between two outstanding competitors in one final showdown in Abu Dhabi.
By approximately 3pm local time on Friday, 25 November, the women’s 2022 World Triathlon Champion will have been decided once and for all. Flora Duffy and Georgia Taylor-Brown will have crossed the finish line and the final points will be awarded on what has been an unforgettable rollercoaster of a season.
Both have three wins so far in the campaign, both will be taking precisely nothing for granted. With the likes of Beth Potter, Laura Lindemann and Cassandre Beaugrand all waiting to pounce on any slip up, the two currently at the top of the triathlon tree know that they will have to do it the hard way: in the heat of Abu Dhabi, in the pressure cooker of a Championship Finals and most likely shoulder-to-shoulder against the best in the business.
The course is also unfamiliar, with the usual Yas Marina F1 circuit switched for a more technical test on the peninsula’s highways. As ever, the 1.5km swim will be a hot one, the transition to the 40km bike tense. Each of the 8 laps will ratchet up the anticipation before the 10km run decides who will be crowned the 2022 World Champion, and you can watch it all play out on TriathlonLive.tv.
GTB x Duffy, easy as 1-2-3
Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown holds the narrowest of leads heading into the decider, victories in Yokohama, Montreal and Cagliari and second place in Leeds her four scoring races. Three of those were over the Olympic distance, Montreal’s super-sprint gauntlet quite the opposite, and she has enjoyed an extended lead-in acclimatising to the UAE heat after skipping WTCS Bermuda to focus on preparations.
After coming off second best at the Tokyo Olympics and Birmingham Commonwealths, the 28-year-old will not only be fired up for revenge, but will now know exactly what it should take to win her second world title both in the literal sense – finishing ahead of her rival – and the mental and physical sense, against the toughest opponent out there.
For Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, victory would mean a record fourth world title, one more than Emma Snowsill and further emphasising her status as the greatest the sport has ever seen. A consummate victory three weeks ago at WTCS Bermuda rubbished any doubts about fitness after a year punctuated with illness, adding to her golds in Abu Dhabi last year and Hamburg this.
Should she finish in fifth place, Duffy would then need at least one other athlete to place between her and Taylor-Brown to still be able to take the title. In a season where we have come to expect the unexpected, nothing is beyond the realms of possibility.
Likely to be having a say on the way the race plays out is USA’s Taylor Knibb. An absolute force on the bike, she will look to hoover up the technical challenges and power through the straights, taking whoever can stay on her wheel along for the ride.
It was in Bermuda that Maya Kingma was able to bridge up to a solo Duffy early on and help take some of the load before an ankle injury ended her challenge, Beth Potter among those able to pass her late on as the pain took hold.
Potter has been the epitome of consistency this campaign, her third place overall heading to Abu Dhabi testament to that, after bronze in WTCS Montreal kicked off a trio of excellent podiums in 2022. USA’s Taylor Spivey was in a similar spot last year, a Series gold remaining elusive despite seemingly being ever-present in and around the top 5 down the blue carpet.
Laura Lindemann did find WTCS gold for the first time in 2022, that win in Hamburg’s season-opener helping her into fourth place in the Maurice Lacroix Rankings and within touching distance of a Series medal. The German star would need to finish two spots ahead of Potter to leapfrog her in the standings.
Deep-stacked start list
Cassandre Beaugrand returns from injury to do battle once more, the French 25-year-old a revelation in Leeds as she stormed to gold and silver medallist at the end of a dramatic WTCS Montreal. An outstanding runner on her day, Beaugrand’s potential impact on the race should not be downplayed.
Another young French talent Emma Lombardi could be a factor, the U23 World Champion stepping up for her first elite Championship Finals along with Lisa Tertsch of Germany and Denmark’s Alberte Kjaer Pedersen.
Add in the experience of Summer Rappaport (USA) and Miriam Casillas Garcia (ESP), the finishing power of Luisa Baptista (BRA) and Julie Derron (SUI) or a resurgent Leonie Periault (FRA) and it all adds up to a one of the most hotly anticipated Finals possible.