Brownlee ignores flat feeling to retain European triathlon title
Saturday, 25 June 2011
June 25 - Britain's Alistair Brownlee defeated the man who succeeded him as world champion last year, Javier Gomez, in the Spaniard's home town of Pontevedra today - despite suffering a flat tyre during the bike section - to retain the ETU European Championships title.
Brownlee's outstanding performance in making up a deficit of nearly a minute and a half earned him the gold medal - but he also got a little help from his younger brother Jonathan and fellow Britons as he strove to close the gap.
Jonathan finished in silver medal position as the brothers repeated their performance of three weeks ago when they had finished first and second in the Dextro Energy ITU World Championship Series race in Madrid.
The race had been billed as a showdown between Gomez and Alistair Brownlee, who is currently world number one, and Brownlee swam hard to establish a lead group of eight with his younger brother, whilst Gomez was in the next group back.
Working well as a lead group on the bike, it seemed disaster had struck when Brownlee sernior was forced to pull over with a flat tyre.
He stopped to get a spare wheel, but lost considerable time on the leaders.
Trailing by nearly a minute and a half and with Gomez now in the lead pack, Brownlee had a lot of work to do during the next five laps.
Meanwhile Jonathan was going strong at the front with Scotland's David McNamee.
However, a determined Brownlee senior fought back to the leaders and hit the second transition in a strong position.
Britain's Todd Leckie had made a break during the final lap of the bike and put himself 30 seconds ahead with Russia's Dmitry Polyansky, the eventual bronze medallist.
However, Alistair and Jonathan ran them down and opened a big lead as Gomez started to pull himself back near to the leaders, before dropping back significantly.
Alistair Brownlee, who had won the European Championships in Athlone last year, said: "It was a great team performance today I think.
"I got the puncture and had to change [wheel] at the top of the hill and there wasn't a skewer in the wheel so it took me ages.
"Todd was absolutely fantastic.
"Harry [Wiltshire] helped me out for the first bit on the bike and then Todd did some fast turns.
"Johnny was great blocking and slowing it right down.
"He would have won if he hadn't done that, so it was great team work.
"Triathlon is a professional sport, so people chase the money races, but a European title is a European title.
"To race in those conditions, have a flat after a hard race last weekend means the world to me and it's another title.
"It's the highlight of the season so far.
"When you win when everything's not going to plan, that is when you're really proud of yourself."
Jonathan Brownlee added: "I wanted to let him [Alistair] back in the race.
"We're Team GB and we're brothers as well, obviously.
"We always work together so I wanted him back in that race. I don't like to see people knocked out because of mechanical errors.
"Alistair chased hard. I thought it might have tired him out a bit more, but that's Alistair isn't it?
"At the back of my mind I can't beat him because he beats me in training, but I gave it a good go today.
"I made a big attack up the hill the last time, but he stayed next to me and then he gave it one good go and he got five metres pretty quickly.
"Two years ago I won European juniors and Mario Mola, who was fourth today, was second to me.
"It's good to see the juniors coming through.
I"'m pleased for Mario and myself.
"It was great."
Leckie finished 22nd and McNamee 45th after contributing to the overall success of the British team.
Gomez finished 40th, running in to the finish despite cramp that stopped his progress early in the run.
Earlier Jodie Stimpson was the top Briton in the women's race with tenth place, as France's Emmie Charayron added the senior title to the junior one she had won two years ago.
The Czech Republic's Vendula Frintova claimed the silver and Italy's Annamaria Mazzetti the bronze.
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June 2011: Brownlee top of the world after Kitzbuhel victory
June 2011: Brownlee brothers reign in Spain
June 2011: Brownlee and Gomez head field as Triathlon World Championship Series heads for Madrid
January 2011: Brownlee targeting London 2012 Olympic qualification with stellar performances in Beijing and Hyde Park
November 2010: Triathlon pair Brownlee and Holland make World Class Podium squad