Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee proved yet again why he is one of the greatest triathletes of all time with another breath-taking performance to win the ITU World Triathlon Kitzbuehel.
Brownlee hadn’t raced since winning in San Diego in April because of an ankle injury but blew away the field with an incredible display of endurance, winning in 55 minutes, 23 seconds on the new dynamic course that consisted of a 750 m swim, followed by a 11.5 km bike and a 2.5 km run up the Kitzbuehel horn.
The highlight of Brownlee’s performance was on that tough bike. After coming out of the water in eighth place, he hit the front of the pack as a short downhill section turned into a grueling 867m climb. Initially Spain’s Javier Gomez broke away with Brownlee but couldn’t keep up when the London Olympic champion started pulling away, creating an astonishing 1km lead. Behind him, the the climb started to take its toll on the rest of the field.
Despite a huge lead, Brownlee continued to run hard and only let up with 200m to go to enjoy the adulation of the crowd with the finish line in sight.
“I mean if any course is going to be my course, this is going to be my thing,” Brownlee said. “The background of mountains and mountain running, and it’s what I love doing, it was fantastic today.”
It was Brownlee’s 14th career World Triathlon Series win and he said of the tough bike course it was just a matter of keeping to his own plan.
“I just kind of got away and then it was just all about holding my own rhythm,” he said. “Once I was riding there was nothing I could do. My stomach was an absolute wreck, I was sort of on that line the whole time and if I went too hard it hurt too much, so I was just trying to keep a steady rhythm and thankfully it was enough.”
Without late omission Jonathan Brownlee, it gave other triathletes a chance to gain vital ranking points in the race billed to be the toughest triathlon in the world.
Mario Mola (ESP), who started the day in third place in the World Series Triathlon rankings, claimed a silver medal in a time of 56 minutes. Mola only came out of the 750m swim in 18th place but an impressive bike leg elevated him into second place and he held on during the run.
“It was a very hard race. I thought the bike was pretty hard, but I think the run was even worse,” Mola said. “I was lucky to have Sven next to me because we were able to ride together to follow a good place.”
Sven Riederer (SUI) held off Henri Schoeman (RSA) to win bronze in a time of 56:46, just three seconds ahead of the rising South African star. Schoeman had come out of the swim in third place and held a consistent pace, but was overtaken by master cyclist Riederer early on in the 11.5km bike ride, who had exited the water in 26th place.
“It was an unbelievable course, the hardest race ever,” Riederer said. “It was one of my strongest bikes – it was perfect course for me. I think that’s the way to go in triathlon with a course like this.”
Even though Gomez ended-up having an off day, he did enough to retain his overall series rankings lead. With Hamburg, Stockholm and the London Grand Final still to come, Mario Mola sits in second place and Joao Silva in third.