Paris Power: Beth Potter sprints to Olympic Test Event victory

Beth Potter takes the day in Paris (Picture Triathlon Today)

After a wonderful race over a spectacular course in the city centre of Paris, Beth Potter just won the Olympic Test Event. The last kilometers before the finish unfolded a blistering battle between Beaugrand and Potter, which was thus won by the British athlete.

The swim was different than usual: the pretty wide Seine allowed athletes to choose their own route quite freely and they did so, making the time differences bigger than usual. The strong current was also to blame for this and at the same time made for a relatively slow swim time. When Bianca Seregni and Summer Rappaport came out of the water first, almost 20 minutes were done already and the field had already broken up quite a bit. Perhaps the biggest favorite, Cassandre Beaugrand, followed at eight seconds at this point.

While a leading group of nine women initially formed on the bike, a chasing group soon joined in, leaving a peloton of 24 ladies in the lead. In fact, all the favorites were in this group, thus potentially making for a particularly exciting ride through the streets of the city centre of Paris.

Unfortunately the bike did not get really exciting, although that was not really surprising: the 24 women at the front of the race worked well together and saw their lead on the chasing group quickly increase to two minutes. Even in the last kilometers both groups stayed together and the lead of the first group only increased. Back in T2 the lead of the 24 women was already three minutes, making them the biggest favorites for a podium finish.

Right from T2, it was Beaugrand who had no mercy at all: after a very strong transition, in which she won several positions, she set off first for the 10km run and did so at such a high pace that the chasing group behind her could not connect. Supported by the French crowd, which incidentally had not turned out in particularly large numbers, Beaugrand flew over the course and immediately tried to make up the difference.

That succeeded for 2.5 kilometers, because then it was the always strong running Beth Potter who managed to close the gap and passed Beaugrand. Potter was not alone by the way, as Emma Lombardi, Laura Lindemann and Lisa Tertsch also closed in, and so from that point on, five women were in the lead. These women stayed together for a few kilometers before Tertsch, about halfway through the run, lost connection as the first athlete of the leading group. Not much later, Lombardi and Lindemann could not keep the pace either, leaving Beaugrand and Potter in the lead.

With only 2.5 kilometers to go, Potter and Beaugrand were still running side by side, steadily increasing the pace. It made for a blood-curdling finale that wouldn’t look out of place at the Olympics a year from now. With a few hundred meters to go, Potter tried to accelerate, but Beaugrand kept up well and was able to follow. The pace increased to an almost insane level, until Potter really started a sprint and claimed victory. She did so in 1:51:46. Beaugrand followed immediately after in second. The battle for bronze, between Lindemann, Lombardi and Knibb, was also a stunning one that was only decided in the final meters. Lindemann, fourteen seconds behind the winner, finished third.