By Brad Culp on 05/07/10 at 12:26 am
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Brownlee claims European victory
Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee proved without a doubt that he is back and as strong as ever with a dominant win at today’s Athlone ETU European Championship. The 22-year-old Brit took the European title ahead of defending champion Javier Gomez of Spain, who finished second, 40 seconds back. France’s David Hauss continued his impressive 2010 season, rounding out the podium in third.
It’s the second major win in a row for Brownlee, who returned from an early season stress fracture to win the third round of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series in Madrid on June 6.
Gomez and Slovakia’s Richard Varga forced a break early in the 1,500-metre, which was answered by Brownlee and his younger brother, Jonathan, along with Italy’s Alessandro Fabian. By the time the breakaway group entered the first transition, they were 20 seconds up on the main pack, which included Russia’s Dimitry Polyansky, who holds a commanding lead in the ITU Best Swimmer Rankings and is seldom anywhere but the front at the swim exit.
The lead group of five set out onto the bike course, with extremely high wind gusts making for very difficult conditions. Organisers made late changes to the bike course because of the extreme conditions, which resulted in the course being 2K shorter. The course was rerouted for safety reasons to avoid athletes getting too close to castle ramparts, which were of concern to organisers. While Varga eventually lost touch with the leaders, the front pack extended their lead to 1:15 at the end of the 38-kilometre ride.
Brownlee didn’t hesitate long to make his move after exiting transition, charging to the front at the start of the 10K run. Gomez kept pace with the reigning world champ for a few kilometres, but only 3K in the Brit was 20 seconds up the road and gaining time.
While the older the Brownlee was running away with his first European title, the younger Brownlee was fading fast as Hauss and his countryman Laurent Vidal moved up from the main group. Also charging hard was the Portuguese duo of Joao Silva and Bruno Pais, but no one could gain time on Brownlee, who clinched the win in 1:44:24.
“When I was injured earlier this year, this was what I was aiming for”, Brownlee said. “I think that is the biggest number of high fives I have ever done coming into the finishing straight.”
Gomez finished 40 seconds behind the Brit to grab second, with Hauss narrowly holding off Silva for third.
Find more details about this event - 2010 Athlone ETU Triathlon European Championships