Beth Potter takes her first WTCS win in Abu Dhabi

Beth Potter has just taken her first-ever WTCS win at the series opener in Abu Dhabi – and what a performance it was...

Beth Potter wins WTCS Abu Dhabi

Beth Potter got her season off to a flying start in Abu Dhabi as she took her first-ever World Triathlon Championship Series gold.


The Scot finished the sprint race in a time of 57:56 ahead of fellow Brit Sophie Coldwell, who also had her best-ever series finish, and USA’s Taylor Spivey.

But it wasn’t the result race favourite Georgia Taylor-Brown would have been hoping for, placing 15th at the series opener.

Who raced the 2023 WTCS Abu Dhabi women’s race?

With reigning world champion Flora Duffy (BER) deciding to give this race a miss, all eyes were on silver medallist Taylor-Brown, who’s finished second in Abu Dhabi on previous visits.

Fellow Brits Coldwell, Potter and Kate Waugh also lined up on the pontoon.

An American contingent was also there, with Spivey, Summer Rappaport and Katie Zaferes, racing her first elite race since having a child, all joining the start line.

Other key names racing in Abu Dhabi include Frenchwomen Cassandre Beaugrand and up-and-coming 21-year-old Emma Lombardi who took an impressive second at WTCS Cagliari in 2022.

What happened on the swim?

Given the 24.2C water temperature, there were no wetsuits in sight as the athletes lined up on the pontoon and it was Coldwell that got off to the best start and was quickly leading the swim pack.

Despite the short swim distance, the front pack managed to create a small gap, with Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes hot on Coldwell’s feet.

Rappaport was well placed in third and was joined by Lena Meißner of Germany, Spivey and Potter.

Meanwhile, Beaugrand was leading the chase pack, who had clear water in front of them as they came to the end of the swim.

Coldwell emerged from the swim first but was hit with a 10sec time penalty for entering the water too early at the start.

She was followed out the water by Rappaport, Meißner, Spivey, Lopes and Potter, with Beaugrand not far behind.

Taylor-Brown, however, didn’t have her best swim, coming out of the water some 30secs down on the leader.

What happened on the bike?

That time penalty wasn’t too damaging for Coldwell, however, and she was quickly out on the bike working together with that lead pack.

A couple of large chase groups formed further back, with Taylor-Brown’s large pack making up a small amount of time and finishing lap one 23secs down. Also in that group was fellow Brit Waugh.

Things stayed pretty much the same over the course of the second lap, with the front pack continuing to work well together.

One thing that did change, however, is that those two chase packs had come together, leaving a group of several dozen women bunched up together. What’s more, they had lost a few more seconds on the leaders come the end of the lap.

And that gap continued to grow over the next two laps, with the gap to that huge group up to 47secs.

The six leaders all came through transition together and emerged as a group, too. As they headed out on the run the chase pack came into view, arriving into transition some 44secs back.

What happened on the run?

Out on the run, Lopes quickly dropped off that lead pack, but the remaining five women stuck together, with Rappaport and then Potter leading from the front.

As the first aid station came into view Potter went on the attack, ignoring any hydration and picking up the pace.

The result? For the first time today that lead pack started to stretch out, with fellow Brit staying within touching distance and the other three women dropping back.

By the end of the first run lap, Potter and Coldwell crossed the line together, with Spivey and Rappaport following 10secs behind.

Further back there were no significant gains from the chasing group of athletes, with Taylor-Brown finishing the first lap roughly a minute behind the leaders.

They were, however, gaining on the likes of Meißner and Rappaport, who were dropping back from Spivey as the run played out.

As the race entered its final stages Potter made another move and this time Coldwell wasn’t able to respond.

Potter ended up crossing the line some 18secs ahead of her fellow Brit, with Spivey finishing an extra 13secs back.

Quotes from the women’s 2023 WTCS Abu Dhabi race

Speaking just after crossing the finish line, Potter said: “It’s always a bit of an unknown, the first race of the season, but I feel like I’ve been doing well in training and Jonny [Brownlee] text me this morning and said ‘you’re going to win’. I didn’t quite believe it. I was like, yeah, yeah, I’ll just do my best!

“I’ve been working really hard, not only on the physical side, but also mental. I feel much more positive, calm and relaxed going into racing, and just more aggressive.”

Second-placed Coldwell also shared a few words: “To be honest, I wasn’t even planning on racing this early. I was just coming back from a training camp in Australia and thought, well it’s on the way home so may as well stop off.

“So to come second, it’s my best result. I’m literally lost for words, I can’t believe it.’

Top 10 women’s results at 2023 Abu Dhabi

1. Beth Potter, GBR, 57:56

2. Sophie Coldwell, GBR, 58:14

3. Taylor Spivey, USA, 58:27

4. Summer Rappaport, USA, 58:35

5. Lena Meißner, GER, 58:39

6. Cassandre Beaugrand, FRA, 58:39

7. Nina Eim, GER, 58:45

8. Emma Lombardi, FRA, 58:46

9. Verena Steinhauser, ITA, 58:48

10. Lisa Tertsch, GER, 58:53

15. Georgia Taylor Brown, GBR, 59:08

32. Kate Waugh, GBR, 59:59

What comes next?

Attention now turns to Japan’s WTCS Yokohama, which takes place on 12-14 May.

That’s then followed up by Montreal on 24-25 June, Hamburg on 15-16 July, Sunderland on 29-30 July and Pontevedra, for the finals, on 23-24 September.


Top image credit: Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon