It was also enough to send the Olympic bronze medallist into the overall ITU World Triathlon Series rankings lead, putting him in the drivers seat to take the overall ITU World Championship title, with just Yokohama and the Grand Final in Auckland to come. But he wasn’t always confident before the race, especially given the limited preparation after London.
“I was confident on this distance, I know I do quite well at the sprint, it wasn’t that long ago I was a junior,” said Brownlee. “But I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel as I usually like going into races really prepared, so usually when I go into a race I’ve been thinking about it for months before but this one I didn’t, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel.”
“The swim was hard and rough and the bike, there was no easy part the whole way round was tough. Then on the run, Javier is normally in the front pack but he had a bit of a mucky start, and it was a bit of a rough swim, and then I’m not used to being chased by Javier, he normally starts next to me and it’s hard work getting chased from behind. I knew with about a kilometre left that I had him as I had a little bit left, I thought I could outsprint him up the hill, although I wasn’t really sure.”
The fast and furious race in Stockholm started with a wetsuit swim, and just like he did in London, Slovakia’s Richard Varga was first out of the water with an 8:52 split. In the first lap, a 13-man lead pack came together including Varga, Brownlee, Luis, Alexander Bryukhankov, Alessandro Fabian, Tony Moulai, Anthony Pujades and Fernando Alarza.
Gomez started the bike just behind, in a small chase group that exited T1 about 30 seconds down on the leaders. But together with Kris Gemmell, Dan Wilson, Matt Chrabot and Sven Riederer they managed to cut the gap on each lap and enter T2 on the heels of the leaders.
From there, Brownlee went flying off the front. While Bryukhankov looked like he might catch him for a while, but then Gomez emerged as the major threat in the second lap. But he just didn’t quite have enough speed to make up for the 15 second deficit he had coming out of T2, even though Gomez’s run split was six seconds faster.
Brownlee finished strong straight through to the finish, stopping the clock at 54 minutes, 24 seconds. Gomez crossed the line six seconds behind him for silver.
“I’m happy with my fitness, I think I had a victory in my legs today but the swim was terrible, there is always people trying to grab you and hit you in the water and I just couldn’t swim. I was fighting the whole time and I was pretty far back after the water,” Gomez said.
“Then I made the second pack, we had to work really hard on the bike we got closer and closer but we never caught the first pack and then on the run, I had a really good run. I ran really fast and I was getting closer to Jonathan but obviously if you want to beat Jonathan you can’t start 10 to 15 seconds behind him over 5km, otherwise it’s impossible to beat him. So the second place is good, but it’s a bit bitter for me when you know you had it in your legs.”
Behind him, Luis said that a strategy to slow himself heading out of T2 paid off. The 2012 Olympian and 2008 ITU Junior World Champion said he aimed to start the run at his own pace, and then ran himself past the rest of the contenders and into his first ITU World Triathlon Series medal.
“I’m used to starting too fast, so I tried to start slowly today, and make maybe a better race at the end,” Luis said. “It’s only 5k so you don’t have to be too far from the top, so I start slowly and just go back and go back and just catch the bronze.”
Spain’s Alarza capatilised on a strong all round race to finish fourth, his best World Triathlon Series result, while Bryukhankov’s fifth place finish was enough to see him hold onto second place in the overall rankings.
Olympic medallists Javier Gomez, Erin Densham, Lisa Norden and Swedish men's national champion Per Wangel discussed all things Olympics, sprint distance and mixed relay at the pre-race press conference in Stockholm.
Great Britain will defend its gold in the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships this Sunday in Stockholm. In the fast and furious format, Switzerland, Germany and France will also challenge for the title
The Olympic Games are over, but racing action is far from finished as the 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series travels to Stockholm, Sweden for the first time in series history and features four of the new Olympic medallists
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