Thursday morning in the French capital will see 65 women lining up for arguably the biggest race of their year at the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris, all eager to get a good taste of the Paris 2024 course and hoping they will be returning for a shot at the big prize in just under one year’s time. A select few can also book their berths that same day and will then be able to enjoy curating their build-ups and training schedules free from selection uncertainties or ranking-point wrangles.
The opportunity to get a crack at the course 12 months out is always precious for athletes and teams alike, one that has always thrown up drama and sub-plots aplenty beyond the podium. Take the Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth finish four years ago that saw Flora Duffy leave with gold, Summer Rappaport becoming the first American on the Tokyo start list or Alice Betto setting up a starring turn for Italy.
It goes without saying that Paris will provide a new challenge for everyone, and a huge test in every sense. The swim is two laps, the first of 910m, the second 590m, starting on the pontoon by the Ponte Alexandre III and passing under the Pont des Invalides. Transition is on Alexandre III bridge, and each of the 7 bike laps crosses both, down the Champs-Elysees at one end and Musee d’Orsay at the other – fast, tight and technical. The four-lap, 10km run wraps it all up with the finish line back on the Alexandre III.
Pay-per-view passes for all four of the Paris Test Events are available at TriathlonLive.tv.
Potter wears the one chasing first Olympic triathlon start
With the late withdrawal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Champion Flora Duffy - the long recovery from the torn knee tendon that has hampered efforts to defend her 2022 world title continuing - the question is whether current Series leader Beth Potter can take a big step towards an Olympic place for Great Britain with a podium here. She may already hail from an Olympic track background, but the 31-year-old has now proven she has the finishes and honed her craft on the bike and in the water to the extent that, while many of her best results have still been over the sprint distance, her WTCS Bermuda bronze last year was a real statement of what was to come in her build up to what would be an exciting Olympic triathlon debut.
A podium here and at the Championship Finals Pontevedra would guarantee Potter – or fellow Brit Sophie Coldwell – a place at the Games, while for the Americans, a top-eight finish could suffice. Rappaport knows well the value of an early confirmed spot, Taylor Spivey and Taylor Knibb, Kirsten Kasper and Katie Zaferes would also love to be able to stamp their place on Thursday: a podium would guarantee it, otherwise the top finisher inside the first eight athletes over the line would do likewise.
Up to two places for Team France available
Hosts France, like Great Britain and current World Champions Germany, already have the luxury of knowing two men’s and two women’s spots are theirs via the Mixed Relay. To be able to make one of them theirs, Cassandre Beaugrand -the other athlete with two golds at WTCS level this season-, Emma Lombardi or Leonie Periault need a podium place – up to a maximum of two – at the Test Event, while a third spot could be booked via a medal in Pontevedra for a top eight finisher this week. Beaugrand has been in sparkling form in Hamburg and Sunderland, both her teammates have already proven they’ve got every bit as much to offer on their day even if that first Series gold has yet to follow.
Luxembourg’s Jeanne Lehair and Mexico’s Rosa Maria Tapia Vidal have run their way into career-best finishes this campaign and can be confident of a first Olympic start next year if that form continues.
The German trio of Lisa Tertsch, Marlene Gomez-Goggel and Laura Lindemann have been delivering eye-catching performances so far in 2023 and are joined by Nina Eim who races for the first time since twisting her ankle back in May. The added incentive of up to two berths on the Paris 2024 start awaits German athletes finishing inside the top 8 this week.
Expect Rachel Klamer to be ready to deliver another more timely big-race performance while Dutch teammate Maya Kingma is hoping her injury woes will be firmly behind her as she plots the next 12 months to an Olympic medal. Natalie Van Coevorden again leads the line for Australia knowing a top 8 finish would guarantee the spot she missed out on in Tokyo and the same criteria applies for training partners Miriam Casillas Garcia and Yuko Takahashi and any of the four Spanish and Japanese athletes on the start list.
World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event
From 8am local time on Thursday 17 August
The full start list is available here.