American Katie Zaferes is looking for her first-ever world championship title and with a huge lead in the World Triathlon Series, it’s hers for the taking. On the men’s side, France’s Vincent Luis sits in the No. 1 spot, but the world title is definitely up for grabs. With the lead up to the Olympics in full swing, a world championship title will be meaningful ahead of qualification decisions. The title also guarantees and extra $83,500 (on top of prize money earned from the event). Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s ITU WTS Grand Final in Lausanne.
Competitors will cover an Olympic-distance course featuring a 1,500-meter swim in Lake Geneva, a 40-kilometer bike on city streets, and a 10-kilometer run. The Grand Final is weighted more heavily than a regular-season race. A victory is worth 1,250 points, and the number of awarded points decreases by 7.5 percent with each subsequent finishing place. A WTS podium simulator at Triathlon.org provides a look at the various ways the WTS podium could play out based on athletes’ finishing places at the Grand Final.
Women’s Preview: Can Katie Zaferes Get the Title?
Zaferes was the No.1-ranked athlete in the world in the 2018 leadup to the Grand Final–despite not winning a WTS race all season. She ultimately finished behind Great Britain’s Vicky Holland, who was named world champion. Zaferes then started off the 2019 season in dominant fashion, winning or finishing on the podium in Abu Dhabi (1st), Bermuda (1st), Yokohama (1st), Leeds (2nd), and Montreal (1st).
Zaferes crashed in both Hamburg (finishing 35th) and the Tokyo Test Event (DNF). She says she’s back to full training and will be looking for a safe ride on the bike in Laussane. Because of her strong start, Zaferes only needs a 12th place or better (regardless of how any other athletes finish) to earn the world champion title she’s been after. Victory would put Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth at 5420 points, five clear of Zaferes if the American to finish in 13th place. If she delivers her usual lightning-fast swim, that could be just the early pressure she needs to apply on the rest of the field. Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor Brown and the United States’ Taylor Spivey are also mathematically in the running for the world title. See the complete start list here.
Men’s Preview: World Title Up for Grabs
Even with Vincent Luis leading the rankings by almost 500 points heading to Lausanne, the Frenchman remains just one of six on the start line who could, mathematically at least, go home as world champion.
It has been Luis’ enviable consistency that has got him to this point. Starting the year with fifth place in Abu Dhabi and fourth in Bermuda may not have been the glittering start he would have wanted, but it proved a platform to gold in Yokohama. Sixth place in Leeds was followed by silver in Hamburg and another fifth place in Edmonton, amassing valuable points at every stop.
Luis’ nearest challenger for the title is the defending three-time world champion Mario Mola. If Luis finishes lower than fifth place in Lausanne, then a Mola victory would mean a fourth straight world title. For Spain’s Javier Gomez to take the honors, Luis would have to finish eighth or lower and Mola third.
The remaining challengers Fernando Alarza (ESP), Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), and Marten van Riel (BEL) are all in with a theoretical, if unlikely, shot at the title. See the complete start list here.
How to Follow on Saturday
The men race first at 2:21 p.m. local time (8:21 a.m. ET), followed by the women at 5:06 p.m. local time (11:06 a.m. ET). Both races will be broadcast live online at Triathlonlive.tv, with subscriptions available for purchase. Fans can also follow the action live on Twitter @TriathlonLive.