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Jonathan Brownlee proved his exceptional strength in the San Diego, crushing all opposition in the second ITU World Triathlon Series race while Sven Riederer put in a fantastic run for silver and Richard Murray added to his second place finish in Sydney.

Jonny Brownlee start the season with a resoundingly powerful performance (Photo: Triathlon.org | Larry Rosa / ITU)

Poised to sprint into the calm 20 degree waters off San Diego’s Mission Beach, tension was thick as determined athletes set their sights on Olympic qualification.

As the claxon sounded, New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell showed his experience by running into the lead along the shallow, spectator-lined shore before diving into the sea ahead of the other pro men. Streaking through the water, the pack swarmed during the first of two 750m laps, with Britain’s Olympic hopeful, Jonny Brownlee moving to the front towards the return to the beach. Brownlee was first out of the water crossing the beach to begin lap two, while Gemmell again took to the shallow water, splashing past the competition.

As the field lengthened during the second 750m, Brownlee held the lead, looking unphased as he dolphin dived to the shore and exited the water in 17:37, just ahead of Russia’s Vasiliev and Raphael of France.

Brownlee was first into the transition area and unused to his bike being racked in 47th place (due to his not having raced since last year’s series finale), almost sprinted right past. Soon Brownlee and Vasiliev were powering ahead leading a pack of 10 on the first of eight 5km laps. Brownlee continued to power away, aided by the USA’s Matt Chrabot, one of that country’s athletes desperate to gain Olympic qualification by finishing in the top nine.

By the end of lap one, Brownlee’s group was down to eight and had pushed to a 15 second lead. The Brit and American continued to work together, looking to extend the lead over a 28-man chasing pack including Will Clarke (GBR), who was hoping to gain a podium place and secure his position on the Olympic squad.

Behind them, a third pack had formed including Australia’s Chris McCormack, Tim Don (GBR) and fast runner Silva (POR), who were forced to chase hard as the second group bore down on the leaders.

During the third lap, the first two packs became one peloton, Britain’s Todd Leckie (who went on to DNF) rode through the field to take a spell on the front ahead of Brownlee, who continued to look calm and collected, showing off his excellent bike fitness.

The peloton swelled to 59 during the last 15km, setting things up for some breakaway attempts including one successful leap from the pack for Japan’s Hosoda, again showcasing the biking strength that aided him to his Asian Cup win. McCormack also attempted a brief attack, but both men were soon reeled in as the group charged towards transition, Vasiliev piling on the speed to string out the pack.

Spain’s Ivan Rana was first in and out of transition with a 20 second change while stalwarts Don and McCormack shared the honours for fastest bike splits in 59:03.

Within two minutes, Brownlee had steamed into first place, his high cadence and speed seeing him blast past all competition. South Africa’s Richard Murray, second in Australia appeared for a time to be the only athlete capable of challenging the Brit, his broad shoulders in stark contrast to Brownlee’s wiry frame, as he stayed in step just behind the race leader.

A second group pulled away from the main pack, with Don’s farmiliar bobbing head leading the chase for a time as Sven Riederer of Switzerland began to pick up the pace and move through the field. The second of the three laps saw Murray try to hold on to Brownlee’s startling speed, but soon the world-number-two found himself alone at the front of the race, putting ever more clear air between himself and the chasers. Already looking at a podium position, Riederer continued to attack, pulling ahead of Murray to settle into second place.

With no older brother to defer to, Jonny Brownlee stormed on to certain victory. Slowing for high fives on the finishing carpet, a beaming Brownlee lifted the tape above his head to take the win in 1:48:47 with a 30 minute 10k, the fastest split of the day.

Riederer took second comfortably in 1:48:52, securing Olympic qualification while Murray held on for third in 1:49:01, taking top honours in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings after his second place finish in Sydney.

On the series’ first race in the US, it was also fitting that US athletes’ Olympic selection would be confirmed with Hunter Kemper blasting through the field in the last kilometre to finish in fifth and claim his fourth consecutive spot in the US Olympic team while Manuel Huerta held on doggedly for the ninth place finish to join his countryman in London this summer.

Top 3 Men

  1. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:47
  2. Sven Riederer (SUI) 1:48:52
  3. Richard Murray (RSA) 1:49:01

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