The 2023 World Triathlon Para Championships Pontevedra bring the action to the north-west of Spain on Saturday morning and, with just over a year to the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, it isn’t only world titles that the athletes are chasing but also crucial big-stage form, qualification points and precious experience with a huge 12 months ahead.
The course comprises a one lap, 750m swim followed by a fast 4-lap 20km ride with a gentle climb on the long straight up to a dead turn at the halfway point of each. From the second transition, it’s 3 x 1.66km laps of the flat run course all the way to the tape, and you can watch full coverage of the action over on TriathlonLive.tv from 9am.
PTVI: Spain’s Rodriguez returns
From 9am CEST
Reigning champion and one of the greatest the sport has ever seen, Spain’s Susana Rodriguez B1 returns to the blue carpet for the first time since WTPS Swansea in July, where she failed to finish with the gold for the first time since 2019. It was Francesca Tarantello B3 who did the damage there on the swim and, after the bike segment was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, the Italian was able to secure her first Series win. German newcomer and winner of the Paris Test Event Anja Renner B3 goes out in her first World Championships, Annouck Curzillat B1 (FRA) and Jessica Tuomela B1 (CAN) will almost certainly be among the names vying for the world championship podium, and Brazil’s Leticia Freitas B1 has had something of a breakthrough season.
In the men’s race, the 2022 champion Dave Ellis B3 will again be a firm favourite for the title, but can expect to be pushed all the way by the likes of USA duo Owen Cravens B3 and Kyle Coon B1, who miscounted during the run at the Paris Test Event and took the tape only to discover he had missed a whole lap. Add the likes of European Champion Antoine Perel B1 and home favourite Hector Catala Laparra B2 into the 16-deep start list and the men’s race should be a classic.
PTS5: Classic match-ups to come
From 10.45am CEST
It looks like being another race for the ages in the women’s PTS5, too, as Grace Norman (USA), Claire Cashmore (GBR) and Lauren Steadman (GBR) all meet on the start line once more. The trio have shared numerous podiums, including the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics where Steadman took the win, but Norman has been in scintillating form in recent months, European Champion and 2021 World Champion Cashmore also looking forward to a swim start that she was denied in the Paris duathlon format switch. Can Canada’s Kamylle Frenette challenge that top three and podium this time around?
Martin Schulz (GER) and defending champion Stefan Daniel (CAN) will be the ones to watch in the men’s PTS5 category, but it was Chris Hammer (USA) who took full advantage of the conditions in Paris to take the win after Schulz had mistakenly biked an extra lap. Brazil’s Ronan Cordeiro will have podium ambitions, too, along with Portugal’s European Championship silver medallist Filipe Marques.
PTS4: Hanquinquant hangs tough
From 10.45am CEST
The USA’s Kelly Elmlinger was back to her best once again in Paris, unbeaten in 2023 and ready to bounce back from the disappointment of her injury-hit title challenge last year in Abu Dhabi. Twice a World Championship bronze medallist, Germany’s experienced cycle specialist Elke Van Engelen returns, as does WTPS Devonport champion Sally Pilbeam (AUS) and Britain’s 2019 World Champion Hannah Moore, fresh from the UCI World Championships and ready to put an injury-hit few years firmly behind her.
As always, it will be difficult to look beyond Alexis Hanquinquant for the win in Pontevedra. The Frenchman, who has dominated the PTS4 races since his first world title in 2016, has been nursing an injury, however, and will likely be pushed closer than most by compatriot Pierre-Antoine Baele, the man who was just 7 seconds back in Paris and was runner-up in Abu Dhabi last year. Australian talent Jeremy Peacock lines up once more, Japan’s Hideki Uda another regular on the podium at the top level. The 2019 silver medallist Jiachao Wang (CHN) returns for the first time since the Paralympic Games, where Spain’s resurgent Alejandro Sánchez Palomero took the bronze.
PTS3: Home favourite Molina eyes title
From 10.45am CEST
The Spanish duo of Daniel Molina and Kini Carrasco have a huge amount of experience between them and will want to put on a show for the Spanish crowds once again on Saturday. Molina has four world championships under his belt but can expect to see Cedric Denuziere (FRA) and Nico Van Der Burgt (NED) piling on the pressure in Pontevedra, while Germany’s Max Gelhaar is another exciting prospect to watch out for.
The women’s category has seen another French talent dominate, Elise Marc chasing her third title with the likes of Sanne Koopman (NED) and South Africa’s Kirsty Weir likely to be in hot pursuit once more.
PTS2: US women showdown
From 10.45am CEST
The men’s PTS2 in Paris saw gold for Maurits Morsink, and the Dutchman will be among the favourites for a first worlds gold in Spain. A fiery sprint finish for the silver between Mohamed Lahna (USA) and Geoffrey Wersy (FRA) lit up the Test Event, and while it wasn’t to be Jules Ribstein’s day in the French capital, the defending world champion will be looking to bounce back in style and score a 4th straight title.
The USA trio of Hailey Danz, Melissa Stockwell and Allysa Seely have rarely been off the podium in the women’s PTS2 category since their famous medal sweep at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. It was Danz, Stockwell, Anu Francis (AUS) with gold, silver and bronze in Abu Dhabi last year, but Tokyo 2020 champion Seely has been back with a bang in 2023 and it looks like being another fiercely contested world championship showdown in Pontevedra as the Australian and Italy’s Veronica Yoko Plebani look to challenge the Americans once more.
PTWC: Can Plat and Parker be dethroned?
From 9.45am CEST
The women’s wheelchair category will see another hotly anticipated race between Kendall Gretsch H2 (USA) and Lauren Parker H1 (AUS), the Tokyo 2020 gold and silver medallists who had the world holding its breath over the closing stages of that dramatic Paralympic showdown. Parker is undefeated since that race, and Gretsch will need massive swim and run segments if she is to offset the Australian’s enormous cycle power on this fast course. Expect Eva Maria Moral Pedrero H1 (ESP) and Jessica Ferreira H1 (BRA) to be chasing the medals too in Pontevedra, while Mexico’s Brenda Osnaya Alvarez H1 continues to impress and could challenge for a medal.
Last year, Netherlands’ untouchable Jetze Plat H2 took the title by two-and-a-half minutes from Florian Brungraber H2 of Austria, while the Paris Test Event was a closer affair as Geert Schipper H2 pushed his teammate all the way last month. We can also expect the likes of Nic Beveridge H1 (AUS) and Giovanni Achenza H1 to feature prominently, but it looks highly unlikely that this will be the course on which Plat is finally dethroned.