Brownlee made a strong start, exiting the swim in fifth place. His brother, Jonathan, was just ahead in third. The hilly bike course suited Alistair, enabling him to get into a breakaway group towards the end of the 40km ride that had a minute advantage over the chasers. The chase pack included Olympic Champion, Jan Frodeno and the Series leader, Alexander Brukhankov, of Russia.
Bursting out of the bike to run transition, it was Courney Atkinson who took the lead. Alistair Brownlee immediately got on to the Australian’s shoulder and the two made a decisive move away from the rest of the field, which included local favourite, Javier Gomez from Spain.
The victory could have gone either way, but it was Brownlee who sprinted for home with 500m to go. Brownlee finished ten seconds ahead of Atkinson, with former Olympic medallist, Sven Riederer of Switzerland 3rd.
Brownlee said: “I definitely wasn’t expecting to win. Today’s victory overshadows anything that I achieved last year. This is by far the proudest victory I’ve ever had after what I’ve been through in the last couple of months.
“I was running for second place but with 500m to go I gave it everything I had. I looked back and couldn’t believe the gap that had opened up. I had to give it everything to win.
“I really wanted the break to work at the start of the bike leg. I like this course because it finds the all round athletes who want to work hard on the hill every time. The guys who went for it today got into a break and it worked.”
Britain’s Will Clarke and Olly Freeman finished 12th and 13th respectively, both with positives to take from their performances as the team prepares for the season’s biggest races in Hyde Park and Budapest.
Performance Director, Heather Williams, said: “It was a fantastic win for Alistair. He made the right decisions at the right time, which is not easy to do when the rest of the field is looking at you and you’re not 100%. We were not expecting the win today, but with Alistair Brownlee you never quite know what to expect.
“Olly Freeman had a good run, and Will Clarke did too once he found his rhythm. Jonathan Brownlee struggled but had a very good swim. David McNamee was steady and strong on the bike, so there were plenty of positives. For these guys it’s important to race and score points now as this weekend marked the start of being able to win Olympic qualification points.”
Alistair Brownlee will not race in Des Moines, Iowa next weekend, unlike many of his rivals in Madrid. He will instead focus on the remaining Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series events. The key events for Alistair Brownlee and rest of the Britain’s elite triathletes will be in Hyde Park at the end of July and the Championship final in Budapest in September.
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:52.41
2. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1:52.51
3. Sven Riederer (SUI) 1:53.08
Photo credit: ITU/Delly Carr