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7 May 2022
5 min read
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Pure grit, relentless speed and dramatic battles were all on display today at the Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift in Singapore. The frenetic racing witnessed Britain’s Beth Potter take the overall 2022 Arena Games Triathlon World Championship title, but Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer would produce the performance of the day to take the stage win.
With athletes clearly suffering under the searing heat and humidity, the three-stage triathlon saw 30-year-old Potter and Bragmayer, 28, duke it out for victory. The Scot would win the day’s first stage, the Hungarian the second to leave Stage 3 victory and the day’s overall title coming down to the last 200m open-water swim, 4km bike and 1km run. The duo would be inseparable on the swim and bike, before Bragmayer achieved the rare feat of overpowering Potter on the final 1km to land a major victory.\
Combined with her silver from Singapore, Potter’s Arena Games win in Munich and second place in London would lead to her being crowned the 2022 World Champion, however. “I was in a world of pain, but I gave it everything,” said the Scot at the finish as she made Super League history.
Singapore’s Super League Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift saw Stage 1 host a 200m open-water swim, the first time in history that an athletic event had been hosted in Marina Bay. A 4km Tacx turbo trainer bike and 1km treadmill run would follow, before Stage 2 reversed that order with a 1km run giving way to a 4km bike and 200m open-water swim.
The classic tri format of a 200m swim, a 4km bike and 1km run would return in Stage 3 to decide both the Singapore and World Championship titles. With a fresh partnership with World Triathlon, the format saw athletes qualify for the final race via a heat that consisted of two swim/bike/run stages. Retained was the new non-drafting format on the bike leg, a return to elite short-course triathlon’s pre-Olympic Games roots.
The 200m open-water swim was the first time that an athletic swim event had been hosted in Marina Bay. The fastest qualifiers would be positioned in the middle, with the four Brits of Jessica Learmonth, Sian Rainsley, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Beth Potter powering to the front. Learmonth, as we’ve witnessed so many times before, would dictate the pace at the front, driving the group to the exit in just 2:34mins. A tricky 150m run over steps and carpeting lead into Transition 1, with athletes wearing ice packs and cooling devices highlighting the hot and humid nature (even in the rain) of racing in Singapore in May.
Pushing 300 watts, Learmonth again took to the front on the 4km bike ahead of Taylor-Brown. And yet the big story was happening at the back of the field, with the German world championship contenders of Anabel Knoll and Lena Meissner already 20secs in arrears. Cut to the end of the real world/Zwift combination bike leg and Learmonth had a 7sec advantage over Taylor-Brown and 9secs over Potter going into T2.
Within 50m of the 1km run, Potter had brought the deficit down to 6secs thanks to a stellar T2 while Taylor-Brown would drop back and lose her third-placed spot to compatriot Rainsley. Learmonth was evidently in distress, holding her hip (an injury she’s been trying to recover from this season) before dismounting the treadmill with 100m to go. The Stage 1 title would be Potter’s 6secs ahead of Rainsley and 9secs in front of Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer.
Stage 2 saw a reverse triathlon of a 1km run, 4km bike and 200m open-water swim. Barbara De Koning (Ned) stormed to the front of the 1km run, with a less-fluid-than-usual Potter and Bragmayer sitting close behind.
That order would be maintained onto the 4km Zwift bike leg before Potter briefly assumed control at the front and then Bragmayer upped the tempo and power to 300 watts on the cobbles. The two would swap the lead until T2.
Even the water would be warm in Singapore, the bath-like 31°C temperature of the Marina Bay failing to refresh athletes after the bike leg’s intensity. Into the 200m open-water swim and Bragmayer’s swim prowess would come to the fore, creating clear daylight ahead of Potter to take the Stage 2 title by 9secs and 21secs ahead of Taylor-Brown.
The pursuit format of the third and final stage of the day would see Potter and Bragmayer start together. Potter would say that “the wheels can fall off for anyone today,” to commentator Annie Emmerson ahead of the starting horn. Tempting fate or planting seeds of doubts in the minds of her two World Championship competitors Taylor-Brown and Knoll?
Bragmayer seemed to be relishing the experience and was straight to the front of the 200m open-water swim ahead of Potter, aware of the advantage Potter would gain by drafting behind her. Bragmayer’s lead would be 3secs in T1 and, while the World Championship title would be out of reach, the Singapore stage win was up for grabs for the Hungarian.
Bragmayer’s efforts were clear to see, the pain writ large on her face, but Potter would edge into the lead by the halfway stage of the 4km bike. Taylor-Brown was coming back into contention, yet the gap was still 15secs into T2.
Onto the 1km run and Potter and Bragmayer were still inseparable. That would change at the 500m stage, however, and Bragmayer would dig deep to take the lead, scoring the rare feat of outgunning Potter on a Super League Triathlon run leg. The Hungarian would hold on for the Singapore title, a statement victory for the experienced 28-year-old.
Potter would be 4secs behind, Taylor-Brown 35secs adrift, yet the overall Super League Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift World Championship title would be Potter’s, her first of what could be a major year for the rising Scottish star.
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