Taylor-Brown vs Duffy: The Abu Dhabi battle to become 2022 World Champion
Two women have utterly dominated the World Triathlon Championship Series over the past 12 months in the race to become 2022 World Triathlon Champion. With three WTCS golds each to their name so far, Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) leads Flora Duffy (BER) by just 70 points heading into the final race of the year.
The Brit won the pandemic-affected standalone World Championships in 2020, while Duffy has taken the title on three occasions: 2016, 2017 and 2021. A fourth would see her pull clear of Australia’s Emma Snowsill as the only woman ever to be crowned World Champion four times, and add yet another slice of triathlon history to the CV of Bermuda’s sporting idol.
Taylor-Brown’s narrow lead in the Maurice Lacroix Rankings comes by virtue of silver in Leeds being her fourth scoring race, against Duffy’s bronze in Yokohama. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA) and Laura Lindemann (GER) are the only two other athletes to have won gold this campaign, but it is the consistency of Beth Potter (GBR) that leaves her in overall third, a position she would realistically be hoping to consolidate rather than build on next Friday, 25 November.
Winner takes it all - almost
With the margins so fine between the two leaders, the permutations that will deliver either the title in Abu Dhabi are relatively straightforward.
Put simply, gold for either Flora Duffy or Georgia Taylor-Brown in Abu Dhabi will see them crowned World Champion.
The two may have been perennial podium forces this season but they haven’t faced each other since the Commonwealth Games. Another straight shootout between the two for the biggest prize of the year is a mouthwatering prospect after the fireworks in Birmingham and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
It stays a straight head-to-head for the title right down to a fifth place finish, a result that would leave Duffy needing at least a one-athlete buffer between her and Taylor-Brown at the finish line if she was to become World Champion for an unprecedented fourth time.
The podium chase
She may still be chasing her first WTCS win, but Beth Potter could still take the world title if she can find the golden touch at last in the UAE and the current one and two finish 9th and 8th or lower.
For any of the other contenders to be in with a shot, both Duffy and Taylor-Brown would need to finish eleventh or below. You’d have to go right back to 2018 for the last time the current number one had such a hiccup in Hamburg, and all the way to Chicago 2015 for the last time the Bermudian didn’t make a WTCS top 10.
Even with the laser-focussed preparation the two favourites will have been putting in with their respective teams, there remain plenty of external factors at work that could have a major influence on the outcome.
The bike power of Taylor Knibb (USA) and Maya Kingma (NED) was on display once again at WTCS Bermuda, and it was Kingma’s bridge up to ride with Duffy that helped keep the American’s charge at bay. As did the rain, something far less likely to feature in the desert than searing heat, the sun beating down on athletes already red-lining it in the hunt for glory.
Add in the run prowess of athletes like Potter, Beaugrand and Emma Lombardi (FRA), the long season and everything that is on the line, and you have a recipe for another dose of unmissable WTCS action as the final chapter in the season is written.
Women’s World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi
Friday 25 November from 1pm local time (10am CET)
Related Event: 2022 World Triathlon Championship Finals Abu Dhabi
|Results: Elite Men|
|Results: U23 Men|
11:01 - 17 Nov, 2022