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They were labelled a dream team and Jodie Stimpson, Jonathan Brownlee, Helen Jenkins and Alistair Brownlee didn’t disappoint, as they added a Team Triathlon World Championship to Great Britain’s trophy cabinet in dominating fashion in Lausanne today.
In the fast and furious 4 x mixed relay, Stimpson put Great Britain with the leaders in the first leg, before Jonathan Brownlee was part of a podium-defining bike breakaway in the second. Current world number one Helen Jenkins then put in a killer third leg to hand off a 10-second lead to Alistair Brownlee, the number one man in the world, in the anchor position. Brownlee then extended that further, handing Great Britain a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 29 seconds to win by 15 seconds from silver medallists Switzerland and bronze medallists Germany. In doing so, Great Britain became the first team to knock Switzerland off the top of the podium, as the Swiss team had won the two previous events in 2009 and 2010.
Afterwards, Alistair Brownlee said he couldn’t have done it without his team. “Yesterday was a struggle and today was hard, but I didn’t want to let the team down, and it’s great to come away with two medals, but its thanks to the teammates,” Brownlee said.
Stimpson also praised her team, “I mean, who can you get better than these guys? They are the world’s best and I got to be in a team with them so it’s pretty awesome,” she said.
An excellent run from Sven Riederer put Switzerland into silver, keeping the home team’s record as the only country to claim a medal at each edition of the Team Triathlon worlds. Riederer said it was an amazing achievement for his team, including Nicola Spirig, Ruedi Wild and Melanie Annaheim. “Its unbelievable feeling to go on the podium in such a hard race with so many good athletes, it’s a great success for Swiss Triathlon,” he said.
While Spirig said the home crowd had helped the Swiss team bring it home. “I think it was absolutely amazing, a crowd like that, we had so much support and you just can’t go slow, you have to go really really fast with that.”
Germany claimed bronze in heartstopping fashion, as Steffen Justus had to serve out a 15-second penalty incurred by Maik Petzold in the second leg. Just as France’s David Hauss appeared around the corner, Justus’ time was up and he sprinted out of the penalty box in transition and over the finish line to claim third, denying France a spot on the podium.
“I didn’t know that and we were watching Svenja on the race and I saw just how I jumped on the bike and I was pretty scared and I thought, that’s it,” he said. “At the end it was unbelievable that feeling when I saw Steffen staying in the penalty box 15 seconds down and then he just sprinted out and came through, it was amazing.”
The ITU Team Triathlon World Championships was launched in 2006 but was re-vamped to the mixed relay team triathlon format in 2009. In it, competitors race on four-person teams, with two men and two women representing each country, racing in the order of female-male-female-male. The distances were slightly tweaked in Lausanne this year, with the first athlete in each team swimming 500m for safety reasons, then a 5km bike leg and a finishing with a 1.5km run. The rest of the athletes completed a 265-metre swim, 5km bike and 1.5km run, before tagging a team member to begin the next leg.
This year a record 35 teams representing 28 countries started the ITU Team World Championships in the mixed relay format, and it was the home team Switzerland, Germany and France who came out in front after the first leg thanks to brilliant runs from Dittmer (GER), Jessica Harrison (FRA) and Annaheim (SUI). Just behind were athletes from Great Britain, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the USA. But Vincent Luis (FRA) and Petzold (GER) translated a fast swim into a bike breakaway in the first major break of the day. Then in the second defining moment in the race, Switzerland’s Wild attacked the steep hill on the bike leg and took Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee with him to the leaders. From there, it became a four team race between Germany, France, Great Britain and the defending champions Switzerland.
By the end of that second leg, Brownlee and Luis had run themselves to the front, putting Helen Jenkins and Emmie Charayron in the water at exactly the same time. But Jenkins powered away on the swim, then rode and ran solo to hand Alistair Brownlee a 10-second advantage on the rest of the field for the anchor leg. He too then rode and ran solo, and increased the time gap on the rest of the field, to seal the 2011 ITU Team Triathlon World Championship.
The battle for podium places wasn’t decided until the final run leg though, as Svenja Bazlen (GER), Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Emmie Charayron (FRA) tagged Steffen Justus, Sven Riederer and David Hauss respectively at almost exactly the same time. In the final action packed run, Riederer pulled away quickly and stayed there, while Justus managed to put enough time on Hauss, even after serving a penalty, claimed bronze.
Incredibly, the second German team finished fifth, giving Germany two teams within the top five, despite also having to serve a penalty in the final run leg. However, because the competition rules state only a country’s top team will be counted in the results, the USA team places fifth despite crossing the line sixth. Australia’s No.1 team finished sixth, followed by the Netherlands, Hungary, New Zealand’s No. 1 team and Russia.
The ITU is bidding to get Team Triathlon into the Olympic Games programme. The format made its major games debut at the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and will also be part of the Incheon 2014 Asian Games.