Buoyed by the glorious British weather, the crowds came out in force today to cheer on their hometown hero, Jonny Brownlee; the sole Brownlee racing as brother Alistair pulled out a week ago with an Achilles injury.
Hoping to spoil the crowd’s day was one of the strongest fields we’ve seen all season, including Commonwealth victor Henri Schoeman (RSA), Series leader Mario Mola, bike supremo Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway and the consistently swift runner Richard Murray.
Sticking to the well-worn script, Richard Varga was first out of the 1.5km swim, pulling in a group of 12, which included Brownlee and Schoeman.
For the first half of the seven-lap 40km run, there wasn’t much movement, just a couple of attempted, albeit short-lived, breakaways; the first from Ben Kanute (USA), the second from Schoeman and Le Corre.
But try as they might, the lead group just couldn’t hold off the chasing pack, which boasted the likes of Blummenfelt, Murray and Mola; the gap closed permanently with just three laps to go.
British hopes were further dashed with one lap to go, when a visibly distressed Brownlee was seen hanging off the back of the group.
Out of T2, and it was Murray who led the way, chasing down what would be his first Olympic-distance win in the World Tri Series.
After a troubled 1km of the 10km run, Brownlee called it a day, cluching his stomach and pulling into finish area to disappear into the medical tent.
With Murray having tied up first place, the battle was on for second as Mola exchanged places with the two Frenchman Luis and Pierre Le Corre.
But it was the Spanish flag that would rise over second place on the podium, with Luis edging his teammate for bronze; Mola’s silver also cementing his place at the top of the Series at the halfway point of the year.
GB’s Tom Bishop finished a solid sixth, to the great delight of the home crowds.
For full results, head to www.triathlon.org/results