Hometown hero Alistair Brownlee dominated the World Triathlon Series in Leeds to claim his first major win for over a year and lay down an ominous marker ahead of this summer’s Rio Olympics.
The 28-year-old Olympic champion, who grew up in the city he represents with such distinction, led home younger brother Jonny in a Brownlee one-two that thrilled a raucous crowd who flooded the streets of Leeds to cheer on their heroes.
Alistair controlled the race from the minute he left the icy waters of Roundhay Park following the opening 1.5km swim.
Together with brother Jonny, Australian Aaron Royle and Frenchman Aurelien Raphael they built a huge gap in the 41.5km cycle into the city centre, with the pace of the bunch controlled by their training partner Richard Varga of Slovakia.
Alistair then overtook Jonny on the first lap of four loops in the 10km run and it quickly became a victory lap for the London 2012 gold medallist.
Victory in the inaugural Colombia Threadneedle World Triathlon Series event was his 20th at the global level and none could have been sweeter for a man who was twice crowned world champion.
On claiming victory, Alistair said: “It’s a massive win for me.
“Obviously any world series victory is phenomenal but to do it in your own hometown makes it that little bit more special.
Despite finishing second, Jonny was not entirely happy with his performance.
“It would have been nice for it to have been the other way round but it was a good honest triathlon course,” he said.
“I had a great swim, a great start and settled in nicely in fourth place and then thought go for it transition, but I actually messed up in transition and that’s where I really lost the race. I couldn’t get my feet in my shoes and probably lost about 10, 15 seconds.
“Javier Gomez didn’t have the legs so I thought I had to go for this myself and I got halfway across and Alistair came and helped me so thanks to him for that.”
Gwen Jorgensen had earlier enhanced her status as the world’s No 1 triathlete with a convincing victory through the rain of Leeds.
American Jorgensen, the two-time defending world champion, beat current rankings leader Fiona Duffy of Bermuda to win the inaugural Columbia Threadneedle World Series Triathlon in Leeds.
Leeds-based Vicky Holland, who five days ago was named to Great Britain’s Olympic team, finished third in a sprint against compatriot Jodie Stimpson.
Holland described the Leeds course, which began with a swim in Roudhay Park before a cycle and run into the city centre, as a very technical course.
“I think Alistair and Jonny Brownlee got what they wanted when they designed a tough course,” she said of her esteemed training partners’ role in the construction of the course.
On her own performance, the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was left frustrated at the time it took her to remove her wetsuit in the transition from the swim to the bike.
That left her with a gap in excess of one minute 30 seconds, which she knew she would struggle to make up given the strength of the runners ahead of her.
“Third place behind Fiona Duffy and Gwen Jorgensen is about as good as I could have hoped for.”
Non Stanford, Holland’s housemate in Leeds and fellow Rio Olympian finished ninth and admitted afterwards she had struggled for form all day.
“I really struggled out there but the crowd in Leeds pulled me through.”
Leeds-based Lucy Hall, who helped set the pace on the bike with Duffy and fellow Brit Jess Learmonth, finished 13th.