Alistair Brownlee won the Abu Dhabi International short course triathlon this morning, but made hard work of it in the desert heat.
After emerging from the swim on the tail of Russian Alexander Bryukhankov, the 24-year-old from Yorkshire took a wrong turn on the bike leg and was 80 seconds down to Dutch athlete Cesar Beilo as he entered the second transition.
However, Brownlee had already chipped away 30 seconds of that by the time he’d slipped on his run shoes and headed out for the final 10km, and re-took the lead within the first two kilometres.
In only his second race since winning Olympic gold in August, he was stepping up to a 100km bike leg for the first time and looked at home on his time trial steed for much of the fast, flat, non-drafting format on the Abu Dhabi highways.
With the big money race of the weekend the $230,000 long course of a 3km swim, 200km bike and 20km run, Brownlee was up against a small field of pros over half the distance, with potential threats Brukhankov and Jordanian Lawrence Fanous quickly falling off the pace on the bike.
Problems hit the leader on the Grand Prix circuit at Yas Marina though, when Brownlee missed an exit sign and lost time and position to Beilo before reeling him in on the run.
Once back in the lead there was only one winner, and Brownlee cruised home to take the title by over four minutes in a new course record time of 3hrs 20mins 18sec.
1. Alistair Brownlee: Swim: 16.29; Bike: 2:26:55; Run: 32.47; Total: 3:20:18
2. Cesar Beilo: Swim: 19.21; Bike: 2:21:50; Run: 39.04; Total: 3:25:34
3. Alexander Bryukhankov: Swim 16:27; Bike: 2:33:54; Run: 33:30; Total: 3:28:53