Olympic silver medallist, world 70.3 champ, world Xterra champ and now five-time world ITU champ, Javier Gomez today cemented his position as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Finishing second in the Chicago Grand Final behind teammate Mario Mola was enough to retain his world title and become the first ITU athlete to win five world crowns.
Gomez started his world-record beating championship campaign by exiting Lake Michigan in 16th place, 18secs down on leader Slovakia’s Richard Varga (16:1mins). But he was straight into the lead bike group, stuck in for 40k and ran the entirety of the 10k with teammate Mola, before the latter charged in the final turn around Buckingham Fountain to take the win and second overall in the Series.
Leading the standings heading into the grand Final, Gomez was favourite to take the race and title, with teammate Mola second in line to the 2015 crown and France’s Vincent Luis in third.
With all three making the lead pack out of T1, a small group of eight men soon formed at the start of the nine-lap bike, including Jonathan Brownlee in his first race back since London, in May, before a hairline fracture derailed his 2015 Series chances.
Despite hosting some of the strongest cyclists on the ITU circuit, the lead group was soon consumed by the chasing group, creating a swell of 26 by the end of the first lap.
Fourth-place Series sitter before the start, Richard Murray (RSA) failed to make the front pack post swim, accruing a 1:01min deficit at the end of lap one. Instead of leaving it to his strongest discipline, the run, to make his decisive move, however, Murray kicked in on the sixth lap to propel the now chasing group up to the leaders and bridge a 40sec deficit.
Knowing his run would be his weakness today, Brownlee was seen trying to coax various members of the front pack into a break. With no takers, the group remained as one… a big one, because by the time the second chase pack caught up it was boasting 59 athletes. Four managed a cheeky break on the last lap, but with no strong runners they were never a threat to the main contenders.
Andrea Salvisberg (SUI), one of the quartet, managed to stay ahead of the group for the entire first lap, but with the two Spaniards breathing down his neck his time in the spotlight was short-lived.
The next three laps saw Gomez and Mola switch leads repeatedly, before Mola made the decisive move on the final corner. Mola crossed the line as race winner and 2015 WTS silver medallist in a time of 1:44:54, having clocked a 28:59min run split. Gomez took the tape 4secs later to take second and his fifth world title.
Using his run supremacy to full effect, Murray finished third, 43secs back, to retain his fourth place in the Series overall. Luis ran in for fifth to also keep his bronze-medal position in the WTS.
Hitting T2 towards the front of the group, Brownlee was initially running in the top five. But he soon found himself heading backwards as his lack of run form caught up with him. Brownlee would eventually finish 12th.
For a full list of results head to triathlon.org
Stay tuned for quotes from the top three finishers, plus 220 interview with Jonny Brownlee.