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Rivals determined to spoil Duffy’s homecoming party

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Verbena Steinhauser of team Italy gets in a few reps just ahead of the WTS at the NAtional Sports Cemter (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

While all eyes will be on Dame Flora Duffy in the elite women’s race of the World Triathlon Series Bermuda, a number of her rivals will be aiming to spoil the homecoming party.

Preparing to resume her quest for a record fourth world title while racing on island for the first time as Olympic champion, Duffy will be hoping for a repeat of the inaugural Series event in Bermuda in 2018, when she swept down the blue carpet on the way to a victory of more than two minutes.

Despite the absence of her main title rival and series leader Georgia Taylor-Brown, the field remains full of competitors capable of stealing the spotlight and chief among them is American Taylor Knibb, who is fresh from being crowned the new Ironman 70.3 world champion after blitzing the field, including Duffy, to win by more than five minutes in St George, Utah, last week.

Title challenger: No 2 seed Beth Potter will be aiming to spoil Dame Flora Duffy’s homecoming party in the Triathlon Series Bermuda on Sunday (Photograph courtesy of World Triathlon)

While it remains to be seen whether the 24-year-old will be capable of a repeat performance so soon after her last outing, there is no shortage of others vying for top spot, including Beth Potter, fourth in the overall series and seeded No 2 this weekend, and Taylor Spivey, fifth overall and third seed in Bermuda.

Speaking before a training session at the National Sports Centre yesterday, British athlete Potter is relishing the opportunity to race in Bermuda for the first time as she aims to build on a strong season, which has included top-three series finishes in Hamburg and Montreal, as well as claiming a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.

“That would be really amazing [spoiling the party with victory],” who finished second to Duffy in Hamburg this season. “I’ve been close to Flora on a number of occasions this year, so if I can go one better than her that would be really good.

“I’m really looking forward to the race, it’s my first time here and so I’m looking forward to just getting stuck in. I feel like I’m in good shape. I was a little bit ill the week before last, but I feel as if I’m over the worst of that now and feeling fit and healthy.

“I’ve been told by some of the others that it’s a tough race, particularly with Dame Flora Duffy Hill, but I feel like that is one of my strong points and I’ve done some sessions back home to fully prepare for that.

“This season has been about getting as much experience as I can. Obviously a lot of the other women in the field have got hundreds more triathlons over me but it’s great that this is a new course for me with different tactics. I know it is going to be an incredibly tough race but I think it will be an interesting one.”

Rivalry resumed: Beth Potter, right, claimed a a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, finishing behind, Georgia Taylor-Brown, right and winner Dame Flora Duffy (Photograph courtesy of World Triathlon)

More accustomed to racing on island after finishing ninth in 2018 and sixth a year later, American Spivey is determined to secure a place on the podium after fourth-place finishes in Leeds, Hamburg and Cagliari.

“I would love to get on the podium,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of fourth-place finishes this year so it would be great to be able to do it this weekend.

“However, I’ve had a tough stretch of racing and so it’s really just a matter of how the body responds on the day. It’s been continuous racing for the last two months and so I don’t really know where my form will be at but I’m hoping I can get on the podium.”

Top-three aspirations: American Taylor Spivey is determined to claim a place on the podium in Bermuda having narrowly missed out with fourth-place finishes in Leeds, Hamburg and Cagliari this season. (Photograph courtesy of World Triathlon)

She added: “Some athletes are coming into the race off the back of really good training blocks, while some like Flora did the Ironman 70.3 last week and others are coming from the Super League, which was five back-to-back races in five different countries. We are all coming at it from different stages in fitness and training.

“It’s always a tough course here and I think it will be just as challenging this time around. I think it will favour the strong cyclists, so I’m looking forward to that, we’ll just have to see how the body holds up come race day. It’s hard to really know how the race will pan out but I’m really looking forward to it.”

While Spivey is fully focused on mounting her own challenge for victory, she reflected on the special nature of being part of Duffy’s homecoming and the greater significance of her achievements.

“In any event we all come into it trying to race our best and obviously hoping to win,” she added.

“However, having Flora race here as the favourite is just really cool to see from an outsider’s perspective because it’s not often that you have an athlete from such a small country winning not only a world title but an Olympic gold medal.

“I think it’s just really inspiring to see all the support she has here and all that she has done in this sport.”

Pedal power: Taylor Spivey, pictured cycling up Dame Flora Duffy Hill, will be making her third appearance in the World Triathlon Series Bermuda, having finished ninth in 2018 and sixth a year later (Photograph courtesy of World Triathlon)

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Published November 03, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated November 04, 2022 at 8:03 am)

Rivals determined to spoil Duffy’s homecoming party

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