Commonwealth Games gold and silver, a European title and a Grand Final victory does not represent a bad 2014 return for triathlon’s most-celebrated family.
Yet such is the current calibre of men’s multisport that the Brownlees still ended their season at the Grand Final in Edmonton in the shadow of Javier Gomez, arguably the most consistent elite level performer the sport has seen.
Gomez’s third place behind Alistair’s victory in Canada was enough to give the 31-year-old a record-equalling fourth standard-distance world title to add to his Olympic silver from London 2012, with the enticing prospect of a World Ironman 70.3 crown to come in Mont-Tremblant next weekend.
“Fairplay to Javier, he’s been a good world champion this year. He destroyed me in the first few races and today he fought well and covered every break,” Jonny said, after the Spaniard spent the race shadowing his closest challenger.
“It was bit like the Tour de France when Contador and Froome were racing against each other,” he continued. “He was breathing down my neck the whole way and every time I went hard he was there, but because I didn’t have the legs, I couldn’t do anything about it. It was a shame I wasn’t a bit stronger.
“I knew on the bike something wasn’t right. I can normally drop people, but not today. I thought I’d try and come across on the hill, but halfway up thought: ‘Oh dear, I’m in trouble.’ “Alistair took the race to everyone else and got that minute, but it was easy because Javier was watching me and that was what he had to do.” “I tried my best and he did his best,” confirmed Alistair. “He just didn’t have his best legs today. He’s had a tough season as well, but to come out with a World Series podium is good.”
The Brownlee brothers had made the break in tandem in both of their last two major races in the Commonwealth Games and Stockholm World Series, yet in his brother’s absence in Edmonton, Alistair seized the opportunity. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “For the first 5km of the run, I felt relaxed, I just enjoyed it. Having an 80-second lead in the biggest race of the year, you couldn’t ask for any more.” It was a comparatively tranquil end after a frenetic start in the Hawrelak Park lake, where Alistair’s hopes nearly took tumble on the pontoon.
“My feet slipped straightaway, but that worked out alright, because I swam straight behind Jonny and Gomez on the way out. The first buoy was terrible, though. It’s getting quite bad, 70 people at a buoy that close. Something needs to be done about that because it’s just a fight to be honest, it’s not really swimming any more. Then I just swam as hard as I could. “I’m now going to have a few weeks off, relax make sure I get fully healthy before I start training again in October.” Image: Delly Carr/triathlon.org