Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee has pulled out of the World Series race in South Africa on Sunday.
Brownlee, 26 today, said: “I’m disappointed and frustrated to be missing Cape Town this weekend. I was hoping to start my 2014 ITU season there. I’m not quite ready and I don’t want to race unless I can do my best.”
The Leeds-based triathlete missed the opening event in the eight-race series in Auckland at the beginning of April, and the latest withdrawal significantly dents his chances of winning the world title he claimed in 2009 and 2011.
Achilles injury has blighted Brownlee’s training and racing over the past few seasons. He spent much of the the build-up to the London Olympics in an air-cast boot, and after battling discomfort for the entirety of last season, the problem flared up dramatically during the Grand Final in London in September.
Having already stated his intention to prioritise the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer, it is no surprise he is erring on the side of caution.
Brownlee only needs to prove form and fitness to make selection for the England team for the Strathclyde Park event, where medals in both the individual competition and new team relay are on offer.
He is also eyeing the qualification mark for the 10,000 metres on the track and is down to compete in a meet in London on May 10 where he hopes to improve on a personal best of 28:32 and dip under the 28:10 England Athletics B Standard.
Brownlee’s absence means younger brother Jonny, 23, and Spain’s Javier Gomez, 31, will be strong favourites to repeat their front-running showdown in New Zealand. Gomez proved too strong on the 10km run leg on that occasion as he did in London last year, where he claimed his third world title in a dramatic sprint finish.
(Main image: Janos Schmidt/ITU)