BETH POTTER’S BIG START TO THE SEASON
Beth Potter has been busy at work all off-season putting in the hard yards and some big miles on her Factor bikes, all focus on taking her cycling and performance to another level. The 30 year old professional triathlete from Glasgow is no stranger to success having previously competed at all major Championships in her former profession of middle distance running. Having also grown up with a passion for swimming, triathlon was something she’d always dreamed of giving a go from a young age. In 2017 Beth made the call to take the plunge and pursue her childhood dream, putting all her eggs into the triathlon basket and hoping it would pay off. The ultimate goal – Paris, 2024.
So, far, she’s right on track and last year finished an impressive 12th overall in the World Triathlon Series. This season she hopes to continue her progression in the sport and a big part of building towards that was spending the winter really driving it on the bike. Her hard work and determined attitude has clearly paid off, as she recently flew into the new race season winning her first race back at the Quarteira, Portugal Europe Triathlon Cup in late March.
We recently spoke with Beth to get the rundown on her busy winter, her big win, season goals and of course, her Factor bikes.
Photography by Super League Triathlon
Congratulations on your big win at the Quarteira, Portugal Europe Triathlon Cup. Can you tell us about your victory and how the race panned out?
It’s been a dreamy start to the season. It wasn’t an overly big race, but I just wanted to get one out of the way before base season officially starts. I’ve been working really hard on my bike this winter with help from Alistair (Brownlee) so it was great to get out there, practice and see where I need to improve for the next one, but it was definitely a positive start!
I had a good start on the pontoon, so I was second going in and managed to get on some good feet. The water was really choppy. A bit like when you lose your feet going down the steps sometimes – it was like that but with arms, so the conditions were very tough but I got into good position and was sitting around 2nd or 3rd for most of the swim.
Coming into transition, I was with the lead group of four or five of us that got away. Initially we just worked together as a smaller group and then a selection of others joined us from behind and we grew to around thirteen. At that point I didn’t feel like anyone really wanted to work on the front, so I ended up taking the lead for most of it on the bike, filling in the gaps. There were only three or four of us who were consistently taking turns, one of which was me. I just wanted to make sure the bike was hard so that I could see what I could run off a challenging bike. In the end, I prioritised making it a tough training day, so I set myself the goal of sitting first through all the technical sections and just made it a really honest effort throughout. It was actually the first time I’d raced on the ONE. I usually compete on the OSTRO VAM but my OSTRO for this season is currently being built, so I rode the ONE and I actually really liked it. I hadn’t yet raced on it, other than on Zwift so it was cool to put it to the test out there.
Then coming onto the run, I just hit the front straight away with a French athlete (Emma Lombardi) and we ran together for about three quarters of the race. It was quite off putting as she kept clipping my heels and my shoe almost came off several times, so I forced her on the front for a bit and then when I made my move it was about a lap to go (2.5km) and I just ran away from her. So, in the end, I won quite convincingly.
It was good just to see because this winter I’ve been really focussing on my swim and bike and obviously something had to give with that. With the run being my strongest of the three, I decided to knock back on some running, so I’ve only actually been doing one key running session a week and have been spending a lot of time on the bike. So naturally I was quite nervous going into this race as usually the run is what I rely on to get me – not back in the race, but to win the race. And as I hadn’t done the work there, I wasn’t so sure, but it turns out I was fine. All the work I’ve done on the bike ensured I was fresher for the run. I’m just a lot more efficient on the bike now and I really noticed it out there racing.
This year will mark your third time competing in the Commonwealth Games. Can you share a bit about your previous experiences and what you’re hoping to achieve this year in Birmingham?
Glasgow 2014 was my first Commonwealth Games as a 21 year old and in my home city, so that was obviously a big goal of mine at the time. I then moved to triathlon and I’d only been doing tri for a year when I was selected for the Gold Coast Games in both triathlon and the 10km. It was a lot to take on and it didn’t end that well.
This year, I’m just going to focus on tri and I’d really like to be at the top end of the race there in Birmingham. I think I can achieve that and I believe that I’m good enough now to mix it up with the best.
Can you share a bit of feedback on your Factor bikes – The OSTRO VAM and the ONE?
The OSTRO VAM arrived first for me last year and I had thought that it would be the ONE. I had it in my head that I would be racing on the ONE because it was ‘the aero bike’ but when the OSTRO VAM turned up first I just fell in love with it. I absolutely love that bike. It is a dream to ride. So, I was very pleasantly surprised. For this season, I’ve actually got two more of them arriving in different colourways, which I’m really looking forward to.
There are not many courses in triathlon that are pan flat. There’s often a lot of hills, so with the OSTRO VAM being more of a climbing, all-rounder bike, it’s probably better suited to most of my events. It’s very light, but I think what I like about it the most is that I just feel really comfortable on it, even in an aggressive position. I think it’s a great bike. I also like that there’s not a lot of athletes in triathlon who ride Factor and I always get compliments about how nice my bike is. It’s not just another bike that everyone rides. It’s quite unique and I feel like in triathlon, I am too as I have come from a different background and a different sport. And that definitely aligns with me.
On the ONE I have a two-by groupset with both chain rings, whereas on my OSTRO that I raced last season I only had a one-by, that minimises the risk of things like dropping your chain in a race. When I was recently out in Calpe, Spain with my training group, I obviously couldn’t have taken the one-by there as I would never have gotten up any hills! So, I took the ONE and really got familiar with it which was ideal going into Quarteira, Portugal. It ended up being perfect as there were some solid hills along the course, so I needed both chain rings!
Can you share a bit about your running background and why you decided to make the transition to triathlon?
I came from a swimming background but very quickly found success in athletics, and sort of decided that that’s what I wanted to do, but I always had this dream of coming back to try triathlon at some point. I’ve competed across European, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympic Games in the 10,000m. And last year I broke the 5km World Record which was actually unofficial because the race was so low key. No one thought it was going to happen, so they didn’t’ have drug testers at the race site which apparently you need to have. I was drug tested the day after the race, but because they weren’t present on race day, it didn’t stand which is very frustrating. But anyway, I did it, nonetheless. I broke the World Record. I just think since I have come into triathlon my running has got even better and that’s what this winter was all about. Finding a way of unlocking that part of my running off the bike. Because if I can achieve that, then hopefully I’ll just win everything! It’s been a bit of a puzzle to try and work out, but I think we’re on the right track. I just need some more time.
Can you elaborate on what sort of training on the bike you were doing over the winter?
Alistair Brownlee, one of the guys I train with has been helping me just try to break it down and cover all bases. To start, I focussed on increasing my mileage. I’m doing a lot of cycling here in Yorkshire with others and there’s obviously so many strong riders here – where I live anyway, so I’m taking advantage of that. I’ve been doing mostly group riding – nothing rocket science but trying to always, no matter what the conditions are or what the wind is doing, just consistently make it my mission to stay on the wheel. I know that might sound like it should be simple, but having come from a running background, I never learnt these skills as a kid and having to pick them up now has been quite hard. So, it’s been all about fast group riding in large packs and just being out there, choosing good wheels to stay on. I’ve learnt a lot this off-season and I felt like a different athlete going into Quarteira. In the past, having wheels around me would bring on panic, but I’m so used to now every weekend having 80 wheels around me, so it didn’t faze me.
Overall, I’ve been working on all aspects from a power side of things, to tactical, technical and strength. So, it was a hard winter, but I do think it’s going to pay off.
The hard work has clearly already paid off and we can’t wait to see what else Beth can achieve this season and beyond as she works towards the Paris Olympics in 2024. Factor are proud to have been part of Beth’s journey since 2021 and look forward to continue working with her as she chases big goals.
Follow Beth’s progress here: