Coming hot on the heels of a fast-paced women’s race that saw Gwen Jorgenson storm to victory ahead of Emma Jackson and Kirsten Sweetland, it was hard to imagine the men’s race could prove to be even more exciting. Of course, we should have guessed that with both Brownlees on the start line alongside Spaniards Javier Gomez and Mario Mola it would turn out to be real edge-of-the-seat stuff.
The pace was fast from the start, with France’s Raphael Aurelien leading the swim alongside South Africa’s Henri Schoeman, who overtook to exit first in 8:41 for the 750m distance. Gomez was fourth and Ali Brownlee 7th with Jonny Brownlee 12th – Jonny later commenting that it was a tough swim and he got “pretty battered”.
The bike leg was the same technically difficult six-lap course that the women had faced earlier in the day, with narrow sections coupled with sharp bends and one sharp hairpin. The athletes soon split into two packs much as in the women’s race, with both Brownlees and Gomez soon pushing the lead pack, Ali kicking several times.
In the chase pack, Richard Murray tried to push the pace but the speed of the lead pack proved too much and they eventually fell to 40sec behind as the men entered the final lap. Both Brownlees were close to the leaders coming out of T2 and Ali Brownlee kicked early on, looking like a man who had something to prove. Brother Jonny soon went with him, as did Gomez and Frenchman Vincent Luis.
With 1.3km to go, a gap opened up between the Brownlees with Luis and Gomez, which the Spaniard struggled to close. The group of three headed into the final km together, but with 500m to go Alistair Brownlee surged again and kept the lead until the finish line, winning decisively in 51:43. Vincent Luis sprinted to take second (his first ITU podium since 2012 after suffering stress fractures) with Jonny securing third. Gomez was fourth in 52:00.
Interviewed post-race, Ali Brownlee said: “I tried to run the legs off everyone with a big surge and that’s how it worked out […] I can’t do all these races any more, so the ones I do, I’ve got to make them count.”
Final Results – (Top 10) Elite Men
Alistair Brownlee GBR 00:51:43
Vincent Luis FRA 00:51:45
Jonathan Brownlee GBR 00:51:48
Javier Gomez Noya ESP 00:52:00
Dmitry Polyanskiy RUS 00:52:12
Joao Pereira POR 00:52:13
Dorian Coninx FRA 00:52:14
Steffen Justus GER 00:52:21
Mario Mola ESP 00:52:23
Aurelien Raphael FRA 00:52:26