Alistair Brownlee attacks on the bike leg to clinch a thrilling victory ahead of Spain’s Javier Gomez and brother Jonny
In the penultimate ITU World Triathlon Series race of the season, Richard Varga (SLO) began ITU Stockholm in his usual spot as swim pacemaker, leading Henri Schoeman (RSA) and the Brownlee brothers (GBR) through the Australian exit at the half-way mark of the 1500m sea swim.
With the field stringing out without any serious gaps forming, Varga led from the Baltic in 18:36, Jonny Brownlee second, Schoeman third and Alistair Brownlee fourth. Series leader Javier Gomez (ESP) was in ninth, seven seconds behind.
Alistair Brownlee immediately pushed hard at the start of the bike course, winding through the narrow, cobbled streets for the first of 10, 4km laps, Jonny Brownlee and Gomez right on his heels, within a breakaway group of 10 that also included Schoeman, but lacked other serious podium contenders.
Shedding a couple of men in the first two laps, the lead of the Brownlees’ group was standing at 55 seconds by the halfway mark, Richard Murray (RSA) taking charge of the chase to attempt to limit his losses.
With a lead of 1 minute 11 seconds over the chasers and two laps to go, Alistair Brownlee blasted out of transition to make a breakaway during the technical section of the course. The gap widened slowly with Jonny Brownlee leaving Gomez to address his brother’s attack. The gap stood at only five seconds going into the final lap with Alistair Brownlee continuing to power on and increase his lead to a massive 21 seconds by T2.
Alistair Brownlee got out onto the run alone, with Jonny Brownlee and Gomez having everything to do to reclaim the top spot of the podium.
Jonny Brownlee and Gomez were soon ahead of the rest of the field, taking turns but still lagging behind by 19 seconds at the end of the first of four 2.5km laps. Continuing to run hard, Alistair Brownlee reached 5km with a lead of 16 seconds, Gomez leading Jonny Brownlee in chasing the older Brother down.
During the closing stages of lap three, Alistair had managed to eke his lead even further, while Gomez put in a hard acceleration that Jonny seemed unable to match.
With 2.5km to go, Alistair led Gomez by 20 seconds, the Spaniard just two seconds ahead of Jonny but continuing to put space between himself and the younger Brownlee brother.
Alistair Brownlee continued to press on through the pain while Gomez secured his second place finish but was unable to put a serious dent in the leader’s advantage.
Alistair Brownlee crossed the line in 1:43:13 to clinch perhaps the most exciting duel between the trio yet, with Javier Gomez taking a well deserved second place in 1:43:27 and Jonny Brownlee claiming third in 1:43:50. Aurelien Raphael (FRA) took fourth in 1:45:14 with Vincent Luis rounding out the top five.
Alistair Brownlee’s win narrows the rankings between the top three athletes in the sport, setting up what’s sure to be an edge-of-the-seat ITU Grand Final in London