There was no stopping former world champion Jonathan Brownlee who scored back-to-back World Triathlon Series wins on the Gold Coast this afternoon as Aussie boys Ryan Bailie and Courtney Atkinson hung on gamely to finish in the top 10.
The 24-year-old Olympic bronze medallist from London, who admitted he started out the season “a little rusty” added a second 2015 victory after his Auckland triumph two weeks ago.
After emerging from the swim in the front group it was Brownlee, his good friend Slovakian Richard Varga who led the swim and the Polyanskiy brothers Igor and Dmitry who took off on the bike course and were never headed.
Although Igor came a cropper on the bike and was forced out of the race midway through the eight lap, 40km course.
Knowing the Spanish squadron of Mario Mola, Javier Gomez and Vicente Hernandez would scamper out of the chase group, Brownlee left nothing in the tank in a solo 10km run to the finish.
In the end it was Brownlee in 1:46.53 with Mola 2nd in 1:47.11 and four-time World Champion Gomez third in 1:47.21, just ahead of Hernandez.
“Credit to Richard Varga, he’s a good friend to me. He was the one who caused us grief in the swim, he swan incredibly fast and he gave it everything he possibly could on the bike,” said Brownlee.
“If it wasn’t for him that race would have been over for me, it would have been really difficult.
“My start of the season was pretty awful, I was really disappointed. I came into the season pretty rusty but I have proved that wrong now.
“My goal today was to do myself justice and that’s what I’ve done.
“That was a hard race today so it’s going to take me a bit to get over it.”
As the run unfolded it was the consistent Bailie and the dual Olympian Atkinson who both dug deep, responding to themselves to hang in and the local crowd, who came out in force to cheer on their heroes.
Bailie, dug deep to run his way into 9th place, holding off the never-say-die Atkinson who grabbed an eye-catching 10th place, in his first WTS race in over two years.
Bailie admitted Auckland had taken a lot out of him.
“My legs had nothing, I just had to fight the whole way; it was a real dog fight to tell you the truth, I felt flat across the board,” said Bailie.
“To finish in the top ten was definitely positive and you can take so many positives away from it. You just put that one in your memory bank when times are good when your close to a podium or trying to get the one position better and you know you can dig deep.
“I have finished 14th 5th 9th in the first three races so that’s a good base to build on in the back end (of the season).
“The goal this year is still the Rio Test event and the Chicago World Championships Grand Final and this is just a positive step towards those races.
“You know how your going to feel when you jump off the bike and the first couple of steps on the run were pretty painful; I had to do as much as I possibly could to keep my mind off just how much pain I was actually in.”
A dual Olympian from 2008 and 2012, Atkinson, who only made the announcement to come back and try for the 2016 Olympics in January, continued to surprise everyone else but himself in such a short time – and someone who was snow boarding in Japan five-and-a-half-weeks ago.
“I have gone from D grade to C grade to B grade and I’ve got better as I kind of expected and I wanted to prove that I’m physically capable. There are things I definitely have to work on. It is my first race back at this level.
“To run 3.5 km with the best guys and watch their pace out and settle with them and it’s not a pacing thing but a tolerance thing.
“ I am actually suffering in the swim which has always been my strength and that affects my run which is actually there; I just have to get my triathlon to come up and that will come in stages. I have to cement myself in the Aussie circles again and I think I’ve done that.”
Atkinson will now set himself for his next race in Yokohama on May 16 and 17.
There was also a bold showing from Dan Wilson who fought all the way to finish line to grab 14th after coming from well back off the bike, while Cameron Good produced his best race of the year to finish 21st with Brendan Sexton 32nd, Decan Wilson 35th and Jess Featonby 48th.
WORLD TRIATHLON SERIES, Gold Coast, Men
1 Jonathan Brownlee GBR 01:46:53 00:17:11 00:00:27 00:59:06 00:00:21 00:29:49
2 Mario Mola ESP 01:47:11 00:18:19 00:00:25 00:58:22 00:00:23 00:29:44
3 Javier Gomez Noya ESP 01:47:21 00:17:27 00:00:25 00:59:15 00:00:22 00:29:54
4 Vicente Hernandez ESP 01:47:26 00:18:15 00:00:28 00:58:25 00:00:25 00:29:55
5 Richard Murray RSA 01:47:45 00:18:21 00:00:25 00:58:22 00:00:23 00:30:16
6 Pierre Le Corre FRA 01:47:55 00:17:26 00:00:26 00:59:14 00:00:23 00:30:28
7 Fernando Alarza ESP 01:48:18 00:18:14 00:00:30 00:58:26 00:00:27 00:30:45
8 Joao Pereira POR 01:48:19 00:18:19 00:00:25 00:58:26 00:00:23 00:30:48
9 Ryan Bailie AUS 01:48:23 00:17:55 00:00:26 00:58:47 00:00:23 00:30:54
10 Courtney Atkinson AUS 01:48:30 00:18:21 00:00:26 00:58:23 00:00:23 00:31:00
14 Dan Wilson AUS 01:48:58 00:18:31 00:00:26 00:58:12 00:00:26 00:31:26
21 Cameron Good AUS 01:49:28 00:18:16 00:00:27 00:58:27 00:00:25 00:31:54
32 Brendan Sexton AUS 01:50:55 00:18:28 00:00:26 00:58:12 00:00:26 00:33:25
35 Declan Wilson AUS 01:51:33 00:18:50 00:00:24 00:58:48 00:00:24 00:33:09
48 Jesse Featonby AUS 01:54:47 00:18:49 00:00:38 01:01:05 00:00:28 00:33:48