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Dame Flora Duffy opts out of WTCS season opener in Abu Dhabi – The Royal Gazette

Updated: March 2, 2023 04:06 PM

Notable omission: Dame Flora Duffy, who made history with a record fourth world title at the World Triathlon Series Championships final in Abu Dhabi last season, has opted out of Friday’s event at the same venue The first game of the season.

Defending champion Dame Flora Duffy has decided to postpone her campaign after opting out of the opener of the World Triathlon Series Championships in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The series kicked off at the same venue where Duffy rewrote her WTCS crown with a record-breaking fourth women’s world title and a successful defense of her WTCS title last November, beating her arch-rival George Taylor-Brown of Great Britain. history books.

While it’s exciting to see racing resume, the 35-year-old Bermudian will not be on the starting line as she continues her preparations at her home base in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Despite Duffy’s conspicuous absence, Bermuda will still represent Erica Hawley in the elite women’s competition.

In order to boost her Olympic qualification prospects, the 24-year-old is determined to break through at the top level with a solid season.

“In 2023, my plan is to play almost every World Cup and WTCS event, with the only focus on getting as many Olympic points as possible and improving my ranking,” Hawley told The royal gazette earlier this year. “I want to start the year strong at this level and restart my pursuit of Olympic points.”

In Duffy’s absence, Taylor-Brown hasn’t finished outside the top two of the race since 2019, so she’s targeting an early finish. The 28-year-old won three golds and three silvers last season as she was knocked out of the title.

America Taylor Spivey will wear the No 2 jersey, determined to build on last season after painfully missing out on the podium behind compatriot Taylor Knibb, who will also not be competing in Abu Dhabi . Despite her vast experience, Spivey is still looking for a series-opening win.

Another contender for the opening race is 25-year-old French rider Cassandre Beaugrand, who already has three top-10 finishes in Abu Dhabi and an impressive win at last year’s Leeds sprint in England.

Her compatriots Leonie Periault and Emma Lombardi both finished on the podium and finished 2022 in fine form, showing strength in all three disciplines.

British duo Sophie Coldwell and Beth Potter finished sixth and seventh respectively last year, with the former finishing third at the Yas Marina Circuit in 2021.

Friday’s event will also see the much-anticipated return of former world champion Katie Zaferes, who will make her WTCS debut 18 months after taking a hiatus from the sport to give birth.

The two-time Olympic medalist will find herself in the unfamiliar position of being one of the last to climb the pontoon as she looks to build her ranking and Olympic qualifying points.

Others hoping for a strong start to the new season include Lena Meissner, who regularly ranks in the top 10 of the series, as well as Lisa Tecchi, Marlene Gomez-Gogel, Annabel Knoll and Neil Anna Em.

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