Abu Dhabi queen: Beth Potter claims first WTCS victory of 2023
After a stunning duel between Beth Potter and Sophie Coldwell, Potter has just won the WTCS Abu Dhabi. The top British athlete was very strong during the run, deciding the race in her favor during the last kilometers.
It was immediately clear from the start that the women were eager to successfully kick off the season, and the pace was high right away. The swim was dictated by British Sophie Coldwell, who came out of the water first after 9:27 minutes. She was followed at two seconds by Brazilian Vittoria Lopes and at four seconds by American Summer Rappaport. Yet Coldwell suffered an immediate setback: in T1 she learned she had entered the water too early and thus had to serve a 10-second time penalty. As she did so beside her bike, she saw her competitors pass again, but she didn’t really suffer much.
On the bike, a breakaway of six immediately formed, with Coldwell as one of the leaders. She rode with her compatriot Beth Potter, Germany’s Lena Meissner, American Rappaport and the also American Taylor Spivey, and Brasilian Lopes had also managed to be part of the leading group. Behind them, all the remaining ladies, over fifty, formed a huge peloton that hunted to overtake the six leading lady. After one of five bike laps, the peloton was 25 seconds behind the leading group.
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However, the leading six worked together so well that they managed to extend their lead. Halfway through, their lead had already increased to 35 seconds, and the lead continued to grow even in the last ten kilometers on the bike. Once back in T2 – and thus with only five kilometers of running to go – the lead of the six leaders amounted to 44 seconds and thus it already seemed clear that these six women would fight for the podium places.
While Lopes had to let the lead group go right away, the remaining five leading women kept running close together for the first kilometer. Then Potter, on paper the strongest runner of the five, began to increase the pace mercilessly and that tore the leading group apart. Potter did so very cleverly, because exactly at the point where an aid station was located on an outside bend, she skipped the aid station and accelerated on the inside bend. In doing so, she grabbed a small lead, which grew larger and larger from then on. Yet Coldwell came back a few hundred meters later and so the two British ladies started the last 2.5 kilometers at the same time.
What followed was a wonderful duel between Potter and Coldwell, with the latter constantly running in lead position. The two British athletes fought for every meter and treated the spectators to an exciting denouement. On the toughest part of the course, where there was a bit of an uphill section, Potter proved to be the strongest: here she accelerated again and ran away from Coldwell.
In the end, Potter therefore won the race in 57:57. At 18 seconds, Coldwell crossed the finish line as second and Spivey finished third at 31 seconds.
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