28 Sep 2022
4 min read
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Every second counts in Super League racing – and what a difference a split-second can make.
Georgia Taylor-Brown’s spill on the bike in Stage 2 of the Eliminator in Malibu lost the Scorpions’ key performer valuable seconds and opened the chance for local star Taylor Spivey to take victory.
With Taylor-Brown recovering for third place it meant the US triathlete who is loving life with her new-look Rhinos takes a single point lead – 42-41 – into the penultimate round in Toulouse.
It also now looks like a straight shootout between reigning Super League Triathlon champion Taylor-Brown and a revitalised Spivey, who at 31 looks to be racing into the best form of her career.
Let’s have a look at how they compare…
As the onscreen ticker that roll calls the first names exiting the water in triathlon frequently shows, Spivey and Taylor-Brown have long been among the best and most consistent swimmers in the sport. Don’t expect too much separation in the swim in Toulouse. Her partner might be French, but as a former champion surf lifesaver from California, Spivey won’t have quite the same local knowledge as she enjoyed – and used to her advantage – in Malibu.
Whether the wet of Munich or the dry of Malibu, Taylor-Brown was in the ascendency on two wheels – until she came a cropper on the tight corner in SoCal. So, while we can expect the Brit to again hold the advantage on the bike, GTB fans might also be holding their breath over any mishaps. Will Taylor-Brown ride more conservatively after the crash? We’ve seen it with Cassandre Beaugrand and Jonny Brownlee in the series so far. If so, it’ll all come down to the run.
Taylor-Brown ran 2, 1 and 8 seconds faster in the three respective run legs in Malibu. Given Spivey was easing to the win in the final round, the insight is that there is a whisker between them on current form. Looking back to London and Munich and again GTB is marginally faster, but it’s tight. Over the standard triathlon distance of 10km, Taylor-Brown’s cross-country stamina kicks in and she’s the favourite. Over 1.6km in Super League it’s far more unpredictable.
As the overall SLT standings suggests, there’s little to choose between the two best women athletes currently competing in Super League. The smart money stays with Taylor-Brown given her dominance in Munich and that it was only the spill on the bike that derailed her efforts in Malibu. But drama and mishaps have a habit of following the Brit, and in-form Spivey is yet to put a foot wrong. What’s almost as important for both women as winning in Toulouse is that if the race starts to slip don’t let any other athletes – such as Coldwell or Beth Potter – come between them. Every second – and every point – counts and both will want to leave France knowing that if they take the tape in the final round in Neom they will be guaranteed the title.
Spivey led out the final bike-swim-run pursuit stage of the Triple Mix, was caught on the bike, but then opened another gap in the swim to be first on to the 1.6km run. In the end she was hunted down by the Scorpions’ Beaugrand, but Taylor-Brown couldn’t get close and had to settle for third as the US athlete laid down a marker for the series.
Racing over the sprint distance in front of a big crowd in Roundhay Park, Spivey and Coldwell made a two-woman break on the bike that even jettisoned Olympic champion Flora Duffy. Both were run down halfway through the 5km final leg by a charging Beaugrand and Taylor-Brown, with GTB finishing second and Spivey in fourth.
The Spanish capital was the location for a first World Cup victory for Taylor-Brown and first World Cup podium for runner-up Spivey. On one of the toughest standard distance courses on the circuit, the pair came into T2 together, but the Brit ground out a 38:09 split to put 49 seconds into her rival on the run. It showed Spivey was becoming one of the best triathletes in the world though. Just a fortnight later she finished second to world champion Duffy in a World Series race in Leeds.
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