Schoeman wins Commonwealth title with Scotland's Austin in third
In-form South African topped the podium ahead of Australia's Birtwhistle and Austin, as Brownlee brothers faltered on the run to finish seventh and 10th
South African Henri Schoeman cruised to Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast, with home hope Jacob Birtwhistle running through for silver and Scotland’s Marc Austin holding on for bronze.
But surprisingly there were no Brownlees on the podium after a below par Jonny finished seventh, and Alistair – still clearly hampered by the calf injury that had kept him out for two months – in 10th.
Northern Ireland's Russell White finished 14th, Scotland’s Grant Sheldon 17th and England’s Tom Bishop 19th. But it was the in-form Schoeman – who’d won the season’s opening ITU World Series race in Abu Dhabi – who surged ahead on the final discipline to take the tape by 6sec in 52min 32sec.
Raced over the sprint distance of 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, the after-effects of a tropical storm made for testing swim conditions for the 37-strong field.
A “really hard, fast aggressive race” was how Alistair Brownlee termed his best chances of success before the start, and he made those intentions clear from the outset as he led the race to the first turn-buoy.
The Yorkshireman kept his position heading into T1, completing the swim in just 8min 48sec, followed by New Zealand’s Tayler Reid, with Jonny Brownlee, Schoeman, Austin, and Australian world youth champion Matt Hauser making a front group of six on to the bike course.
A downpour had made the roads far slicker than for the women’s race four hours earlier, and played into the hands of the breakaway to keep a larger chase pack including South Africa’s Richard Murray and Birtwhistle at bay.
Unsurprisingly, much of the pushing was done by Alistair Brownlee as the gap extended to 21sec after the first 5km bike lap, 22sec at midway, 26sec at the bell and 28sec heading into T2.
The double-Olympic champion had not raced since February - when he won in a half-Ironman in Dubai – and pulled out shortly before a planned World Series outing in Abu Dhabi in March due to injury.
And it was clear heading out on to the final 5km leg that he wasn’t in the run form to defend his Commonwealth title and immediately dropped off the pace.
Schoeman quickly broke free from Jonny Brownlee and Austin and was 14sec clear by the by end of the first of two laps. Surprisingly, it was Jonny Brownlee who really started to suffer and he could do nothing to respond as a charging Birtwhistle made up the deficit and breezed past.
The Australian’s speed also proved too much for Austin, but the Scottish triathlete - a former silver medallist at both junior and under-23 level on the ITU circuit - held tough to claim the final podium spot ahead of Hauser and fast-finishing New Zealander Ryan Sissons. Much-fancied Murray, who won bronze in 2014 behind the Brownlee brothers had to settle for sixth.
What a result for @marcjaustin. Bronze 🥉for 🏴. After a great swim he just made the break on the bike with @alistair.brownlee hitting the pace hard along with @jonnybrownleetri @henrischoeman @matt_hauser & @taylerreidnz. They had 30 second in to T2. @henrischoeman 🥇 @jakebirtwhistle 🥈 @marcjaustin 🥉 @jonnybrownleetri 7th @alistair.brownlee 10th #220gram #gc2018 #triathlon #scotland
The disappointing performance from the England trio will now put question marks over their chances of defending the mixed relay title when the triathlon resumes in two days time.