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Brownlee returns to action

Jonny Brownlee competed in his first triathlon since September 2011 here in France...

“This time last year it was 25 degrees and blue skies,” a sports-mad local told us. “Now look at it.”

Conditions that mimicked the wind, cold and rain of the UK provided the backdrop to last night’s prologue, here in Les Sables d’Olonnes on the Atlantic Coast, writes your editor, James Witts.

Today is the main event – round one of the 2012 French Grand Prix Series. We’re over here to understand why the world’s best triathletes gravitate toward northern Europe for this highly regarded but under-reported competition. Full write-up in issue 275, out 26 June.

Today’s GP features athletes of the calibre of Jonny Brownlee, David Hauss and, in the women’s race, Erin Densham. Format is sprint distance with proceedings kicking off at 14.45 UK time. That is, if the fierce winds lose some power. At the moment, whether it goes ahead remains in the balance.

Last night the men’s and women’s prologues did take place, despite driving rain off the Atlantic.

The prologue comprised a 400m lake swim, 10km bike and 3.4km run. Each region selects a team of five, who dive into the flat waters in 1min intervals. The registered time is of the final athlete in the team.

In the women’s event, TCG Parthenay took the honours. Their team featured Australia’s Felicity Abram and Britain’s Non Stanford, who continued her fine form from Sydney where she came 11th in the ITU World Series round one. Second went to Saint Raphael and third to TC Chateauroux.

For the men, this was Jonny Brownlee’s first race since last September. He looked strong and tanned, and helped his team – reigning French GP champions, EC Sartrouville – to second. Gold went to home team, Les Sables Vendee Tri, whose collective included Portugal’s Joao Silva and David Hauss (FRA). Third was Saint-Jea-de-Monts.

We’re heading up to the race HQ shortly to determine whether the GP later today will be taking place. More soon.

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Manisha was a freelance digital writer for 220 Triathlon between 2010 and 2012.