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Alistair Brownlee has firmly stamped himself as the man to beat at the London 2012 Olympic Games, after capturing his second ITU World Championship title in stunning style on the 2008 Olympic triathlon course in Beijing.
In yet another dominating performance, Brownlee also kept his perfect Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final record intact in Beijing on Saturday.
After hitting T2 with a lead group of thirty, Brownlee turned in his trademark blistering run in cold and wet conditions in Beijing to win the Grand Final, with Sven Riederer just edging out Jonathan Brownlee for silver. Alistair Brownlee finished with a run split of 29 minutes, 50 seconds, even after stopping to high five spectators down the home straight.
But those results weren’t enough to shake up the overall 2011 ITU World Championship rankings as they stood before Beijing, with Alistair Brownlee claiming the overall world championship, Jonathan Brownlee the silver and Javier Gomez the bronze. Gomez finished sixth overall in Beijing.
In the end the conditions played perfectly for Alistair Brownlee, who stormed to wins in the wet in both Madrid and London this year, and said that as soon as he saw the tough conditions he was confident.
“When I woke up this morning and saw it was cold and wet, I just thought, ‘yes,’” he said.
“The swim was really easy…we came out first and second, then we knew the bike was dangerous so just really tried to keep in control. On the run, we were running and we got away and it was just like running through treacle today…then I knew (Jonny) wasn’t really great, you realise that when you train together every day. I wanted to keep him with me but I realised I should probably go on that last lap. So it was just great to cross the line really.”
The win was Alistair’s 11th in a Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series race.
Jonathan said he was happy to hold on for Grand Final bronze, and his first elite ITU World Championship medal after winning the Under23 World Championship last year in Budapest.
“It’s a real, real tough course here. It was a pure race, I was the first out of the swim, I didn’t actually really want to do that but a few people stopped swimming, so I thought ‘push on,’ he said.
“Then on the bike I thought we were going to get away there was that group of five and thought we were going to get away. I started the run pretty tired, then I felt alright in the first couple of laps, but then all of a sudden my legs just went completely.
“I’m really pleased I held on for third because could have quite easily given up, and thought oh this is a bad day, I’ll just come sixth or seventh. But it was a hard, hard race out there.”
Despite the cold conditions the race was quicker than the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the last ITU race to be held on the course. Jonathan Brownlee exited the swim first, minus his goggles, and quickly jumped to the front alongside his brother and Russian Alexander Brukhankov. But more than 30 athletes went with them and despite repeated attempts to breakaway, the lead group stayed the same for the six-lap 40km entirety.
A chase pack led by Chris McCormack cut the gap to 30 seconds halfway through, but that dropped out to 45 seconds on the final lap, leaving the lead pack with the only realistic chance to medal.
The Brownlees then jumped out to the lead quickly, but couldn’t get more than 10 seconds on a group that included Gomez, Riederer, Alexander Brukhankov, Dmitry Polyansky, David Hauss and Laurent Vidal until lap three. Alistair Brownlee made his move there, dropping Jonathan. Gomez and Riederer then bridged the gap, before Gomez just fell off the pace and Riederer stormed home to finish second.
Riederer surprised ITU commentator Barrie Shepley by saying he thought of him in the final finishing chute.
“It was so hard at the end, everyone was bunched together but I knew I had a really strong finish and I concentrated on the last 300 metres. I was thinking about you, because all the time you call me Mr Third, so today I am Mr Second,” Riederer said.
It also ended a string of bad luck for Riederer in Beijing.
“The first time, I broke my toe, the second time I lost my wedding ring in the lake and the Olympics was very bad for me but now I am second in the Grand Final.”
Russian Dmitry Polyanskiy finished fourth, enough to move him up to an overall world championship top 10 finish.
In other notable results, France finished with three athletes in the top 10 in the Beijing race, with Laurent Vidal fifth, David Hauss seventh and Vincent Luis eighth.