Olympic champion Duffy’s emotional victory on home soil in Bermuda drew her within striking distance of the Brit in the rankings and close enough to leave the world title in her own hands.
Duffy lies 69 points behind after adding the Bermuda win to success in Abu Dhabi last November and Hamburg in July. A third place from Yokohama makes up her other scoring race and keeps her in contention for a shot at the $80,000 top prize from the bonus pool.
Although whoever finishes in front is likely to take the title, there are other less likely permutations. A top four for Duffy, as long as she finishes ahead of Taylor-Brown would be enough to retain the world title and become the first woman to win it four times.
If Duffy finishes fifth and Taylor-Brown sixth, Taylor-Brown would win the overall crown by a fraction of one point. The further both finish down the field, the more places the Brit could afford to lose to her rival.
Three podiums have been the highlight of a busy year for Potter who also finished fourth overall in Super League and has evolved into one of the most consistent racers on the circuit.
There is the slimmest of chances that Potter could become world champion should she win the race and neither Taylor-Brown nor Duffy finish in the top eight. While that might be a stretch, a first WTCS win is unlikely to be far away for the Scot.
There is little to separate Lindemann (3,200pts), Taylor Knibb (3,190) and Cassandre Beaugrand (3,181) – who are likely to need to finish at least three places higher than Potter in Abu Dhabi to bridge the points gap and take the final overall podium spot.
Lindemann is another consistent racer whose position is boosted by victory in Hamburg in September last year when the elongated 2022 season kicked off just three weeks after the 2021 grand finale.
Knibb recently won the Ironman 70.3 world title in Utah and finished runner-up to Duffy in Bermuda, while Beaugrand can be almost untouchable on the run as she showed when winning in Leeds in June.
Next in the rankings are USA’s Taylor Spivey, Britain’s Sophie Coldwell and Netherlands’ Maya Kingma who all pose a threat. Coldwell will be looking to transfer her form and podiums from the sprint distance to standard-distance racing.
The fourth British triathlete on the start-list Sian Rainsley will also be looking to move up the prize money standings. The 25-year-old is currently placed 15th, which would see her receive an additional $8,700 from the bonus pool.
How might it play out in Abu Dhabi?
There are a number of women who can affect and even win the race, but it would be a surprise not to see both Duffy and Taylor-Brown prominent throughout – ruling out anyone else’s outside chances of the overall title.
On the last visit to Abu Dhabi – the second race in this series – Duffy also won out with Taylor-Brown again finishing second.
But it’s not a foregone conclusion. Taylor-Brown has also beaten Duffy in Yokohama and finished ahead of her in Leeds this year. Much will depend on who is freshest after a long season for both.
As for the race win, Beaugrand and Potter’s speed on the run suggest both are capable and Knibb’s power on the bike could see her break away like she did to win the grand finale in Edmonton last year – although the course in Abu Dhabi will make it much tougher.
Who will win the 2022 women’s paratriathlon world titles?
The women’s wheelchair division will see a rematch of the spectacular finish in Tokyo last year, where USA’s Kendall Gretsch sprinted down the blue carpet to edge out Lauren Parker.
Gretsch, who is one of just a handful of athletes to have won gold medals in both summer and winter Paralympics, won’t underestimate Parker after the Australian turned the tables on her in Swansea in August before going on to compete in last month’s Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
GB’s Melissa Nicholls finished fourth in South Wales and having also won twice this year in Portugal and Italy, also lines up in Abu Dhabi.
After an undefeated season, USA’s Hailey Danz starts as favourite in the PTS2 class. Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani and Australia’s Anu Francis – the two youngest in the field – could provide the stiffest tests.
The PTS3 division will be a straight shootout between France’s Elise Marc and Netherlands’ Sanne Koopman.
The PTS4 women will have their work cutout to stop USA’s Kelly Elmlinger whose only loss since 2019 came in the Paralympics when she had to step up to the less impaired PTS5 – one of four classes selected for the Games.
Former paraswimmer and University of Sheffield student Megan Richter will also continue her switch to paratri in the PTS4 class.
Paralympic champion Lauren Steadman is absent from the PTS5 race, but Tokyo bronze medallist Claire Cashmore does line-up to renew her rivalry with USA’s 2016 Rio winner and Tokyo Paralympic runner-up Grace Norman.
Loughborough-based Cashmore has had another strong year including winning the World Para Series event in Swansea and the national title for a fifth straight time. If she wins in Abu Dhabi it’ll be her third consecutive world title (there was no paratri championship race in 2020).
In the visually impaired class, two other strong Brits, Commonwealth champion Katie Crowhurst and Rio Paralympic silver medallist Alison Peasgood will be trying to stop Spain’s formidable Susana Rodriguez add yet another title to her impressive resume.
Top image credit: Tommy Zaferes/World Triathlon