Brownlee pulls out a performance for the ages to win in Arzachena
There was a familiar swagger about Jonathan Brownlee’s finish-line bellow as he came through a hotly contested World Triathlon Cup Arzachena to show once more what he is capable of just two months away from Tokyo.
Quick in the water, flying up the first bike climb and hanging tough on the run, only Adrien Briffod (SUI) was able to keep him in check, the 26-year-old Swiss athlete’s final roll of the dice not quite enough to see off the Brit, while Mario Mola (ESP) ran out of course as he rediscovered his flow to finish third.
“It was complicated on the bike because of the wind, and we were a large group,” said Jonny. “That’s not what I expected. In the run I felt really good. I know it’s easy to say that when you win, but I felt in control. I saw Alistair with about 1km to go and he said ‘when you go, make sure you mean it’ - and I made sure I did.”
The wind had whipped up and the sun was beating down on the athletes as they lined up for the 750m swim, a congested first buoy proving hard going as the middle group came together, Mark Devay (HUN) enjoying the clear water out front.
Right with him were Richard Varga (SVK), Seth Rider (USA) and Gianluca Pozzatti (ITA), the Italian giving the local fans plenty to cheer as he set out onto the first of three tough bike laps, Alistair Brownlee (GBR) ten seconds off the front.
It was Jonny Brownlee who attacked first, carving a little daylight out only for the hoards to move in on him on the downhill section, among them Antonio Serrate Seoane (ESP) and Emil Holm (DEN), who were first to try and break at the end of lap one.
Alistair Brownlee was leading the chase pack with Tom Bishop (GBR) on his back wheel, but Bishop then came off near the top of the hill to effectively end their chances of bridging the gap.
At the bell, it was another Norwegian, Casper Stornes flying through transition with a small advantage over Jonas Breinlinger (GER) and the 22 men in his wake that included young Frenchman Arthur Berland on debut, Gabriel Sandor (SWE), Ben Kanute (USA) and now Mola right in the mix.
It was no surprise to see Blummenfelt right on Brownlee’s shoulder out of the second transition, but he looked to be less comfortable after his recent efforts, while Briffod and Matthew McElroy (USA) were well placed to strike.
The Swiss was hitting his stride coming along the beach at the halfway point, he and Brownlee then pulling away to play a little cat and mouse and test each other as it became clear the gold and silver would be decided between them.
Mola was looking dangerous as he eased away from Serrat Seoane and McElroy into third, but there was to be no catching the front two, Brownlee pulling clear over the final 300m to secure the gold and a timely win going to his home race in Leeds.
Seoane held on for fourth from McElroy, Roberto Sanchez Mantecon with sixth from Blummenfelt, an excellent seventh place from Berland followed by Florin Salvisberg and Sandor rounding out the top ten just as he had here back in October.
“This was a great race for me,” said a delighted Briffod. “The last time I raced in Sardinia I won the Cagliari World Cup, so I really like this place. I raced good in Yokohama and now one step forward, which is great to show my National Federation that I can podium. I tried to go for the win today but Jonny was faster. We knew that we had Mario Mola behind, so on the flat I tried to push the pace, then he (Jonny) pushed as well but I couldn’t follow him.”
“I’m glad to be back, in good fitness and being able to push ‘til the end,” said Mola. “In the swim I didn’t know where I was for the first buoy. It was really hard the bike in the first hill, then I found the legs. With a month and a half before the Olympics it’s great to be one step closer. Now back to work.”
For the full men’s results, click here
10:49 - 29 May, 2021
10:45 - 26 May, 2021