HUUB’s Beth Potter (GBR) and Alistair Brownlee (GBR) rounded out a challenging year in style at Valencia World Cup over the weekend. The fourth and final World Cup event took place on the streets of Valencia, with a number of the world’s best competing over the sprint distance event.
Brownlee showed signs of a return to the form we expect from the double Olympic Champion as he was narrowly beaten by current World Champion Vincent Luis (FRA). Meanwhile, Beth Potter ran away from the women’s field to claim her maiden World Cup victory.
As expected, it was HUUB’s Henri Schoeman (RSA) who led the way in the water. Closely on his feet were Brownlee and Luis as well as fellow French athlete Pierre Le Corre. The four had enough of a gap leaving transition that they managed to forge a small lead on the main chase pack in the first few kilometres.
Leading the charge behind was HUUB’s Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) and compatriots Gustav Iden and Endre Espedal. Also working hard to try and reel in the early leaders was Jelle Geens (BEL) who would be a threat to the likes of Brownlee and Luis.
Despite a frantic chase, the leaders managed to maintain their lead on the urban F1 circuit. Brownlee clearly had one plan in mind as he led the way. The pace even proved too much for Schoeman who was dropped to the chase pack, an indication of the effort that Brownlee was putting in (bearing in mind it was Schoeman who was the first male athlete to lead a WTS race from start to finish, holding off a field of international athletes solo).
The trio leads into T2 with just less than 30 seconds of an advantage, and it was soon clear that a win would come from Brownlee or Luis as Le Corre dropped off the pace. The pair were shoulder to shoulder until the final meters when Luis kicked clear to take his fourth victory of 2020. Geens yet again provided the days quickest run split to earn the final spot on the podium catching Le Corre partway through the run.
The women were faced with challenging weather for the start of the race, and the swim took place amidst a downpour. Ddjenyfer Arnold of Brazil set the pace early on, however majority of the women’s field followed closely, including HUUB’s Melanie Santos (POR) and Beth Potter. Pre-race favourite and double Olympic medallist Nicola Spirig (SUI) was off the pace, and it initially looked like the leaders might organise quickly and prevent the Swiss athlete from getting into the race, but after one lap she was up at the front and controlling the race.
Over the last decade, Spirig has been considered as one of the strongest bikers in the sport, if not the strongest, so it was always going to be a tough ask trying to hold her off. Despite a number of attacks, she was unable to get away, and a pack of 20 athletes headed into transition together.
Although Potter started the run towards the back of the group, she soon made her way to the front and began to push the pace. Of those in the small group of 7, it was Spirig and the young German athlete Lisa Tersch (GER) that provided the biggest threat and they were the last to be dropped. Potter delivered a 16.45 run split to claim her first World Cup victory, with Spirig prevailing in the sprint with Tersch. A kick which famously won her Olympic gold back in 2012.