Beth Potter Dominates, Aurelien Raphael Shocks Rivals at Arena Games Triathlon World Championship Series Opener
Beth Potter and Aurelien Raphael victorious as the race to become the first esports triathlon World Champions begins in Munich
Veteran French triathlete Aurelien Raphael produced a fairytale performance to secure the biggest win of his career in a race full of shocks at Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift in Munich.
While the women’s race was a total domination by favourite Beth Potter, in the men’s the much fancied duo of Marten Van Riel and Olympic gold medallist Alex Yee were left scrapping it out at the back as the oldest athlete in the field, 33-year-old Raphael, took the lead in the race to be crowned triathlon’s first esports World Champion.
Following last year’s debut German showing, Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift Munich was Super League Triathlon’s second visit to the multisport-mad nation, the setting being the iconic Olympiapark in Munich, Bavaria, home of the 1972 Olympic Games and the venue for the 2022 European Games, in which triathlon is set to feature.
The format of the unique real life and virtual reality blended event saw Stage 1 host a 200m pool swim, a 4km turbo trainer bike and 1km treadmill run, before Stage 2 reversed that order with a 1km run giving way to a 4km bike and 200m swim. The classic tri format of a 200m swim, a 4km bike and 1km run would return in Stage 3 to decide the winner, but with times accumulated from Stages 1 and 2 deciding a pursuit start. Olympic Games qualification points were also on the line thanks to a partnership with World Triathlon which saw the athletes have to qualify for the finals via heats earlier in the day.
British star Beth Potter was in simply imperious form in the women’s race. The 30-year-old from Glasgow bossed every discipline in Munich and refused to give the chasing field a glimpse of the win. Her margin of victory was 90 seconds over Germany’s Lena Meissner, with another German, Anabel Knoll, completing the podium in front of a raucous home crowd.
Beth Potter said: “That was good. It was fun. On the last run I wanted to see how hard I could go and see if the wheels came off. It was hard but I enjoyed it. I didn’t think this was a format I would be good at so I am very happy to come here and win again.”
In contrast to the women’s event, the men’s race came down to a showdown on the final 1km run leg of Stage 3. Five athletes were all in contention, but 2007 junior world champion Raphael powered to the front, rolling back the years as the pre-race favourites and stars of 2021’s classic finale at SLT Malibu, Alex Yee and Marten Van Riel, languished in the final places.
Raphael was a force from the start, recording a 2:03 200m swim on his way to winning Stage 1. Though Justus Nieschlag, the 2020 Arena Games champion, took Stage 2, Raphael dived in for the Stage 3 pursuit style start ahead. Come the final run he produced a 2:43 for 1km to take the victory ahead of Australian Super League debutant Max Stapley and Nieschlag.
Aurelien Raphael said: “It is amazing. Thank you so much to Super League. This is such a good competition and I am very happy to win here in Munich. I feel good and I will come back for London for the next Arena Games and look to win again.”
Arena Games Triathlon powered by Zwift now heads to London (April 23) before the Grand Final in Singapore (May 7).