Georgia Taylor-Brown v Cassandre Beaugrand: Style And Substance

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Super League Triathlon makes even the best triathletes in the world appear frantic at times. Except perhaps Georgia Taylor-Brown and Cassandre Beaugrand.

The unruffled pair have always had bags of potential and a rivalry that’s been bubbling away for a few years has been brought to the fore in 2022.

Super League team-mates with Bahrain Victorious Scorpions, SLT Championship Series rivals and potential Olympic gold medal contenders in two summers’ time in Paris – over both the individual and mixed team relay – there’s little to separate them.

From the Arena Games to World Triathlon racing, and now Super League, we’ve seen it all season. Beaugrand leads 4-2 in the head-to-head in 2022, but if she has the form – as demonstrated in London on Sunday – Taylor-Brown edges it on consistency.

Last year, Taylor-Brown was runner-up in each of the four rounds to take the overall SLT title, whereas Beaugrand finished a lowly 14th in Munich – our destination for the weekend.

BREAKDOWN: SWIM-BIKE-RUN

SWIM

While many of the world’s best triathletes develop a fast, choppy cadence to cut through the open water, Beaugrand retains the languid, easy-on-the-eye stroke. We saw it at the Arena Games earlier this year, and again last weekend in London. Taylor-Brown is just never far behind. A front pack ever present. You’d need a long memory to recall the last time she was distanced in the water.

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BIKE

If Beaugrand has a weakness it’s on two wheels. Taylor-Brown is an exceptional bike handler – ranked No 1 in SLT racing right now – and knows this is where she can do damage to her rival. With confidence gained from years spent riding the roads of Yorkshire, while GTB might not always be able to break away, if she can make the bike leg hard enough, it can sap her French rival’s energy for the run.

RUN

The two Scorpions have some sting in the tail when it comes to the final leg. It was in a WTCS race in Hamburg four years ago where the wider tri world woke up to Beaugrand’s run pedigree. On that day she cruised to a 15-minute 48-second 5km and announced herself as a threat to anyone. Taylor-Brown, a national level cross-country runner, is one of the few in the sport that can live with Beaugrand. But it all depends on the day.

Superleague London Championship 2022 Womens Race Csansom138

MEMORABLE HEAD-TO-HEADS: TAYLOR-BROWN v BEAUGRAND

SUPER LEAGUE TRIATHLON, LONDON 2022

Last Sunday saw the French athlete in the ascendency. With the Bahrain Victorious captains deciding the short chute was more wisely bestowed on Cathia Schar, Beaugrand and GTB knew Stage 3 was likely to come down to the run. That Beaugrand showed Taylor-Brown a clean pair of heels by 18 seconds over a mile – a huge margin in SLT terms – was eye opening. But Taylor-Brown had just come down from a first stint at altitude, so expect those legs to be firing again by Munich.

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WORLD TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, MONTREAL 2022

Taylor-Brown turned the tables on Beaugrand a fortnight on from Leeds WTCS. In World Triathlon’s answer to SLT’s eliminator format, the importance of transitions were laid bare as GTB opened a gap in T2 and stayed clear to the tape. Beaugrand got a slither of revenge the following day when she anchored her French quartet to glory in the mixed relay – with Taylor-Brown holding on for second for GB despite having to serve a penalty.

WORLD TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, LEEDS 2022

Taylor-Brown was the home favourite, but Beaugrand had other ideas. Racing over the sprint distance, the French star led out of the water, and although Taylor Spivey and Sophie Coldwell broke away on the bike, she ran them both down and even had time to serve a 10-second penalty for a mount line infringement before taking the tape ahead of GTB.

SLT ARENA GAMES, LONDON 2022

It was Beaugrand’s day in London’s Aquatics Centre in April, and being fastest in all three disciplines set the tone for what is fast becoming the finest season of her career. A rusty Taylor-Brown would have to settle for fourth behind compatriots Potter and Learmonth.

OLYMPIC GAMES MIXED TEAM RELAY, TOKYO 2021

Both Beaugrand and Taylor-Brown were handed the penultimate legs for their respective countries, and both delivered the fastest third leg splits, with Taylor-Brown just 3 seconds faster. It helped set Alex Yee up for GB to take gold, and allowed Vincent Luis, short of run form after injury, to hold on for bronze and earn France a first Olympic triathlon medal.

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR IN MUNICH?

It was the Jess Learmonth show in the Equalizer format, with Taylor-Brown in second and Beth Potter making up a British 1-2-3. The GTB v Beaugrand rivalry didn’t materialise, as the off-colour French athlete toiled in 14th, following her 10th place in London the week before. As she arrives at Munich’s Olympiapark as the championship leader, expect it to be a little different this weekend.

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