After an injury kept him out of the first two races of the 2010 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series, 2009 World Champion Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain was back on top of the podium today, winning the Series Grand Final in Budapest in dramatic fashion. Brownlee ran side-by-side with Spain’s Javier Gomez for the entire 10k run, before breaking away to take the win in the final seconds. With his runner-up finish, Gomez moves to the top of the 2010 ITU World Rankings to secure the second world title of his illustrious career. Gomez started the day more than 200 points behind Germany’s Jan Frodeno in the standings, but after the German finished a disappointing 41st, Gomez jumped up to take the top spot.
"The second championship feels even better than the first," Gomez said. "I had to fight so hard for it today. I would have loved to win today’s race as well, but winning the world title was the goal, so I couldn’t be happier."
A full field of 75 men dove into Lágymányosi Bay on the banks of the Danube River to start the second annual Grand Final, with France’s Frederic Belaubre taking up the lead early on. The Frenchman led after the first of two 750m loops, with Gomez and Brownlee only seconds behind. Gomez took over the lead on the second lap, as the rest of the field began to string out behind the Spaniard. Gomez was the first to exit the swim, doing so in an amazing time of 17:09, with a long line of men close behind him.
The bike course took the athletes on a 5K ride from Lágymányosi Bay to Downtown Budapest, before starting seven 5K laps around the city centre. As the top men made their way into town, a lead bunch of 20 men pulled away from the rest of the field, but the chase group of another 22 men was able to pull up to the front group on lap one.
American Matt Chrabot was the first to make a legitimate break attempt, building a 15-second advantage by the end of lap two. While Chrabot was at the front trying to pull away, a series of crashes on the wet pavement took Tim Don (GBR) and Kris Gemmell (NZL) out of the race. Alexander Brukhankov (RUS), ranked number three heading into the race, was also part of a crash, and lost over a minute while he fixed his bike.
Chrabot extended his lead to almost 30 seconds by the end of lap five, but he wasn’t able to hold off the charge from behind, getting caught by the group as they started the final lap around town.
Out of transition, Brownlee, Gomez and Frodeno flew to the front, quickly putting a gap on the rest of the field. Frodeno hung with the lead men for a few hundred metres, before falling off pace, clearly suffering from stiff limbs as he tried to fight through the pain.
Click to download high-resolution version. Image credit: Delly Carr/ITU
As Frodeno was passed by the likes of Steffen Justus (GER), Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS), David Hauss (FRA) and Joao Silva (POR), Brownlee and Gomez pulled clear of the field, extending their advantage with each passing kilometre. As the top two men started the final lap of the 10K run, their lead was over 30 seconds and it was clear that the final race of the 2010 Series would come down to a two-man showdown.
As they made the turn for the finishing stretch, Brownlee kicked into another gear, pulling clear of Gomez to claim his second Series title of the year in 1:42:26. Gomez crossed the line four seconds later, already aware that Frodeno was well back and that he had claimed the second ITU World Championship of his career.
"Alistair started off the run super fast and I just did my best to hang with him," Gomez said. "Alistair is a great champion and when he sprinted at the end I had nothing left. I give all the credit in the world to Jan. He is an amazing athlete it I was sad to see him suffer today."
While it’s been a difficult year for Brownlee, last year’s world champion, he was clearly ecstatic at the over finishing the year on such a high note.
"This feels great especially after starting off the year with an injury," Brownlee said. "I felt pretty comfortable at the start of the run, but I was really suffering at the end. Javier pushed me really hard today and he’s a very worthy champion."
While Brownlee celebrated his win and Gomez rejoiced in his world title, the race for third came down to a four-man sprint between Justus, Silva, Kahlefeldt and Hauss. Justus proved to have the best sprint of the day, pulling clear of the group to claim today’s final podium position.
"I really wanted to make the podium today and it helped that I was in a good group late in the run," Justus said. "I have a lot of confidence in my sprint and so I was happy to wait until the end to really push it. I couldn’t be happier with the way this season has turned out."
Rounding out the top five were Silva (4th) and Kahlefeldt (5th), each only a few seconds behind Justus.
With his third-place finish, Justus moved up to the second spot in the final world rankings, while Kahlefeldt finishes the year ranked third. Frodeno finishes the year ranked fourth, one spot ahead of Silva.
The Elite women will compete tomorrow, starting off at 2pm local time. Live coverage will be available on triathlon.org/tv
Elite Men Results
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:42:26
2. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:42:30 +4
3. Steffen Justus (GER) 1:43:04 +39
4. Joao Silva (POR) 1:43:05 +40
5. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 1:43:09 +44
6. David Hauss (FRA) 1:43:12 +46
7. Maik Petzold (GER) 1:43:18 +52
8. Sven Riederer (SUI) 1:43:37 +1:11
9. Jonathan Zipf (GER) 1:43:47 +1:22
10. Christian Prochnow (GER) 1:43:55 +1:29
Series rankings after round seven
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3789
2. Steffen Justus (GER) 3139
3. Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS) 3112
4. Jan Frodeno (GER) 2963
5. Joao Silva (POR) 2649
6. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 2435
7. Sven Riederer (SUI) 2405
8. Alexander Brukhankov (RUS) 2388
9. David Hauss (FRA) 2191
10. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 2096