An injured Alistair Brownlee did not factor into this Grand Final but there was plenty of drama as Javier Gomez and Jonathan Brownlee battled each other until the bitter end, with the Spaniard taking the win and the title.
Richard Varga set the pace during the swim with a fantastic 17:04 time and several of the favorites had managed to limit the damage with swims under 17:30. Both Brownlee brothers, Javier Gomez, Aaron Royle, Alessandro Fabian, Vincent Luis, Henri Schoeman and Ryan Bailie were among those who had swum well, but Mario Mola, Richard Murray, Joao Silva, Sven Riederer and Joao Pereira now had their work cut out.
Once on the bikes Gomez and the Brownlees were in the leading group of 13 athletes who set the pace and after one lap the first bunch of chasers led by Dan Wilson were working hard to close the gap about 30 seconds behind the Brownlee group. An even larger group with Murray, Mola and Riederer was almost a full minute behind the leaders. These two chase groups eventually merged and managed to gain a little bit of time back, but Alistair Brownlee was organizing the troops up front and despite the earnest effort by the chasing pack the gap never got smaller than 30 seconds. But when the front group entered the bike-run transition it was quickly apparent that Alistair Brownlee had an injury of some sort. He grimaced as he ran with his bike to his spot and quickly fell off the pace once out of transition.
Jonathan Brownlee had no apparent issue and he set the pace with Javier Gomez and Aaron Royle but the reigning U23 World Champion from Australia was not able to hold the fast pace set by the other two. The younger Brownlee and Gomez were attacking each other during the whole run but neither could shake the other, and meanwhile a bit further back Mario Mola ran really well and moved up through the field as Alistair drifted back further and further. As Brownlee and Gomez kept launching attacks Mola moved into third position about 30 seconds behind the leaders, but the two up front were just outside of reach. Gomez tried again with the finish in sight, but Brownlee managed to counter the move much to the joy of the British fans. But Gomez found one more gear and blasted past Brownlee to take the Grand Final win in dramatic fashion and the WTS series title.
"It feels amazing to be world champion, I can't really believe it," said Gomez. "It probably wasn't my day for running, I felt quite tired, so I was just working hard on the sprint, on the last kick. It's amazing to be champion again, I'm so happy."
This is already the third ITU World Championship title for Javier Gomez and he now joins Aussie Peter Robertson who also has three to his name, and is just shy of Brit Simon Lessing who has snagged four such titles.
Alistair Brownlee soldiered on and yelled encouragements to his brother while they both were on course and in the end the young man who is very much used to winning came across the line in 52nd spot.
"I think it was just that it was really cold at the start and then I warmed up and it felt alright and then it went again at some point," said Alistair Brownlee. "I probably should have pulled out, but I’ve never pulled out of a race in my life and I’m not going to start now."
2013 ITU Grand Final
London, GBR / September 15, 2013
1.5k swim / 40k bike / 10k run
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:48:16
2. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:17
3. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:49:10
4. Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) 1:49:21
5. Vincent Luis (FRA) 1:49:24
6. Laurent Vidal (FRA) 1:49:28
7. Aaron Royle (AUS) 1:49:30
8. Crisanto Grajales (MEX) 1:49:32
9. Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) 1:49:34
10. Joao Pereira (POR) 1:49:34
2013 ITU World Triathlon Series - final standings
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 4,220 points
2. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 4,195 points
3. Mario Mola (ESP) 3,726 points