Team England’s posed a formidable line-up in Strathclyde Park, with all four team members medal winners from Thursday’s individual races. And true to form, they took a commanding win in the first relay tri event of a Commonwealth Games.
Bronze medallist Vicky Holland led Team England out for the first of four 250m swims, with silver medallist Canada’s Kirsten Sweetland, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt (fourth on Thursday) and Scotland’s Natalie Milne keeping her honest throughout.
Onto the 1-lap 6km bike course and Holland and Sweetland pulled out a 5sec advantage over five chasers of Hewitt, Milne, Emma Moffatt (AUS), Aileen Reid (NIR) and Milne.
Reid attempted a breakaway but heading into T2 was swamped by the chasing quartet.
Exiting T2, Sweetland got the legs on Holland to edge out a gap of several seconds before the handover 3.8km later to teammate Matthew Sharpe.
Reid had also managed to claw back the deficit over the two-lap run to be the second to tag her compatriot Conor Murphy, with Holland and Hewitt directly behind.
Waiting for England was silver medallist Jonathan Brownlee, who starting the swim was third alongside New Zealand. Exiting the swim, Brownlee worked his way into second place, behind Sharpe, the duo closely followed by Murphy and New Zealand’s Dodds; the four working together throughout the bike leg.
South Africa and Australia were by now 35secs down, Scotland (Grant Sheldon) a further 5secs back, Wales’ Liam Lloyd behind him.
Exit Jonny, enter Jodie
Jonathan Brownlee pulled out a slight gap into T2, allowing him to pull ahead on the final 1.6km run and tag fellow Englander and gold medallist Jodie Stimpson.
New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia and South Africa (the latter two having caught up on the run) followed in 16secs back.
Kiwi Nicky Samuels was able to claw back a few seconds in the swim to exit 11secs behind Stimpson. Canada’s Sarah-Anne Brault and South Africa’s Gillian Sanders a further 23secs back, Aussie Emma Jackson 2secs behind them in fourth.
Middle-distance specialist Eimear Mullan (NIR) was next in 45secs down, Seonaid Thompson (SCO) at 1:37mins, Holly Lawrence (WAL) 2:25mins.
Samuels and Stimpson were soon working together on the 6km bike leg, staying together until T2. Stimpson launched out to race solo for the 3.8km run, pulling out a 9sec gap to NZ at the handover to gold medallist Alistair Brownlee and a further 22secs to Australia, Canada and South Africa.
Mullan handed over to teammate Russell White 1:13mins later, before Wales’ Morgan Davies and Scotland’s David McNamee took the baton to start their final waves.
From here to the finish it was business as usual as Brownlee senior started the bike with a 15sec cushion to NZ’s Ryan Sissons. By the start of the T2, that gap had climbed to 1:08mins. Rumours of a penalty for Alistair for overstepping the handover box when tagging Stimpson were unsubstantiated, allowing the English athlete to cruise to another gold-winning victory, the mile-long run his victory lap.
Behind him Sissons, Australia’s Ryan Bailie and Canada’s Andrew Yorke found themselves in a bike group with formidable runner and bronze medallist Richard Murray (RSA). Knowing the gold was a gonner, the quartet slowed the pace to save their legs for what would be a tough 1.6K against run supremo Murray. And it almost worked for Australia, sprinting to the line to eventually claim bronze behind a jubilant South Africa.
Canada took fourth place, New Zealand fifth, Northern Ireland sixth, Scotland seventh, Wales eighth and Mauritious ninth.