Javier Gomez continued a fabulous summer for Spanish sport by winning an epic men’s elite race at the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship London.
Gomez’s dramatic victory in 1:42.08 at the London 2012 Olympic Games venue meant he has secured back-to-back world championship wins, following his success in Hamburg a week ago.
There was also an impressive silver medal for 20-year-old Briton Jonny Brownlee, with Jan Frodeno, Germany’s Olympic champion and world number one, taking bronze.
But there was disappointment for Britain’s reigning world champion and 2009 London winner Alistair Brownlee, who gave it everything – battling with his brother and with Gomez in a remarkable 10k run, before finally running out of steam just a few hundred metres from the line and ultimately finishing 10th.
Gomez, who crashed out in the ride in last year’s London race, said he had to give it everything to hold off the Brownlee brothers in a thrilling race.
“I’m really happy. Two victories in a row in two weekends is fantastic,” he said.
“We were running pretty fast the whole time and I had reached my limit at the end.
“On the final lap I decided to go as hard as I could. I looked back with 300m to go and realised I was running by myself,” he added. “It’s really hard to beat the Brownlees. They’re great champions.”
Jonny Brownlee said he had nothing left at the end of the race.
“That was the hardest race of my life. To be honest it was a massive shock to find I was so near the front. It’s the first time I’ve been at the front in a race like this. I thought ‘what’s going on here?’
“After the first lap I thought I’d try to stay up there for two laps, and then I thought I’d try to stay there for two and a half,” he said.
“I had absolutely nothing left, but I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a dream come true.
“It was a hard race out there and Gomez was absolutely incredible. He kept surging and running harder and harder.”
It is Germany’s Frodeno who still sits on top of the world rankings. He looked out of contention for a podium place until Alistair Brownlee ground to a halt in the latter stages of the run, leaving the German to collect the bronze.
“It was a tough day for me today after peaking for last week’s home race,” he said. “I was quite uncertain what was going to happen, but I’m really happy with the outcome, especially since the three boys really cranked it up today.
“I hadn’t given up on a medal. It shows that it’s not over till it’s over. I’ve shown before that I have a strong finish, but I guess I did get a little lucky today, even though that’s not the way you want to get lucky.
“I think today again London has proved itself well worthy of hosting the 2012 Games.”
Alistair Brownlee received medical treatment after crossing the line, but Heather Williams, British Triathlon Performance Director, said there is no cause for worry.
“Alistair is fine but exhausted,” she said. “There is no cause for concern.”
There was further success for Britain with 31-year-old Stuart Hayes – who had thrown down the gauntlet in the ride – coming home in eighth place.
He said: “That was the perfect race for me, I gave it everything. I knew I didn’t have enough on the run, so I had to take it on the bike. At the end I kept going until my legs gave away.”
Ben Collins (USA) had been the early pacesetter in the swim, but was overhauled by Maik Petzold (GER) by the halfway mark of the swim. But Alistair Brownlee who worked his way up the field and dived in for the second leg of the swim just a fraction of a second behind the German.
Despite losing his goggles, Alistair Brownlee has soon established a lead in the Serpentine and was first out of the water, just ahead of Petzold, with Frederic Belaubre third and Jonny Brownlee in fourth.
Alistair Brownlee rapidly established an early lead in the bike, but by the 5k mark the lead pack had caught him, and double Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty (NZL) was leading a front pack of 27, with Hayes (GBR) and Olympic champion Frodeno (GER) both well up in the leading pack.
Alastair Brownlee urged his fellow competitors to press ahead to try to keep some clear road between the top-27 and the next pack, but no-one seemed willing to take up the challenge.
By the 20k mark of the ride, the chasing group had caught up with the leaders, with the top 56 riders separated by just 10 seconds.
Three laps (15k) from the end of the bike, Hayes issued the challenge, opening up a 14-second lead. But he was soon joined by Bruno Pais of Portugal and Reinaldo Colucci of Brazil.
In the final 5k of the bike, the leading pack were joined by Ivan Rana (ESP) Erhard Wolfaardt (RSA), Belaubre (FRA), Pais and Clark Ellice (NZL) with the 26-second lead over the next pack. Alistair Brownlee, meanwhile, was 34 seconds off the lead in 14th.
After the bike/run Alistair Brownlee hit the throttle to try to close the gap on the front seven and was joined by his brother and both Gomez and Frodeno, but Hayes was still ahead.
It only took a third of the 10k run for the chasing pack to swallow up the leaders, with Alistair Brownlee clocking 9.29 for the first 3.3k.
The two Brownlees, Gomez and Frodeno battled it out in the final two laps before the Spaniard produced a final surge that took him away from his rivals and set up that epic win.
1 Javier Gomez (ESP) – 1:42.08
2. Jonny Brownlee (GBR) – 1:42.14
3. Jan Frodeno (GER) – 1:42.30
4. Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS) – 1:42.44
5. Mario Mola (ESP) – 1:42.46
6. Brad Kahledfeldt (AUS) – 1:42.54
7. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) – 1:42.57
8. Stuart Hayes (GBR) – 1:42. 59
9. Steffen Justus (GER) – 1:43.04
10. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) – 1:43.05
2011 Dates: August 6 and 7th, London.
Image: Delly Carr/ITU