It’s been a long time and Jonny Brownlee heard the whispers that he would never again stand atop the podium in a sport where he previously won a 4th-best 12 WTS victories and a second-best 30 WTS podiums. Not to forget his bronze at the 2012 London Olympics and silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
His last WTS win was 2017 Stockholm. Prior to Edmonton, his 2019 record included a DNF at WTS Hamburg, 35th at WTS Leeds, 11th at WTS Bermuda. In 2018, Jonny Brownlee was 8th at the Gold Coast WTS Grand Final, 5th at WTS Edmonton, 4th at WTS Hamburg, DNF at WTS Leeds, 7th at the Commonwealth Games and 7th at WTS Abu Dhabi.
After he turned back the clock and won a duel for the win, Brownlee was ebullient, although he had been affected by the doubters. “People have very short term memories,” he told ITU media. “They said that's all in the past. I’m never going to get a podium, much less win one of these again. I knew I was going well in training this year. But I had bad luck after bad luck. I tell myself in my early parts of my career, I had a lot of good luck. It's time I had some bad luck.”
Brownlee was in the front pack of the swim with an 8:37 split, and joined a 5-man breakaway on the bike with Marten Van Riel, Vincent Luis, Ben Kanute and Matt Hauser. On the run, Brownlee and Marten Van Riel broke away from the pack, while Mario Mola worked furiously to make up for a 20 seconds deficit after T2. By 3 kilometers into the run leg, Brownlee broke away from Van Riel and held his own from Mola for a while. But with a kilometer left, Mola began to hit his old magnificent stride and started gradually chopping Brownlee’s lead.
“The swim was great – I finally got some clear water,” Brownlee recalled the give and take of the contest. “On the bike we really committed. All the people were working hard. I was surprised we didn’t get away further. On the run I thought we were going to get caught. But at the end I was actually running faster and it felt really good and I knew it was going to be all right.”
While on his way to a 3rd-best 15:01 5-kilometer run, Brownlee held off Mola and his race-best 14:47 run split by 5 seconds at the line.
“I’d be lying if I said the critics didn’t hurt,” said Brownlee. “People say: ’He’s passed it.’ But I know from my training I am fit and I still have some of my best racing to come. I am nowhere near the form I was before and I am still not as strong as I can be. Hopefully it will all come round by Tokyo.”
U.S. competitor Matt McElroy crashed on the bike and broke his arm, which will require at least six weeks of recuperation.
WTS Edmonton – Men
July 20, 2019
S 750m / B 22 k / R 5k
1. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 54:52 S 8:37 T1 00:53 B 29:58 T2 00:24 R 15:01
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 54:57 S 9:01 T1 00:56 B 29:48 T2 00:27 R 14:47
3. Marten Van Riel (BEL) 55:02 S 8:34 T1 00:55 B 30:00 T2 00:25 R 15:10
4. Hayden Wilde (NZL) 55:07 S 9:12 T1 00:49 B 29:45 T2 00:27 R 14:56
5. Vincent Luis (FRA) 55:13 S 8:32 T1 1:00 B 29:56 T2 00:26 R 15:21
6. Morgan Pearson (USA) 55:19 S 8:53 T1 00:53 B 30:02 T2 00”25 R 15:07
7. Ben Kanute (USA) 55:28 S 8:35 T1 00:54 B 30:00 T2 00:24 R 15:37
8. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 55:30 S 9:10 T1 00:55 B 29:52 T2 00:27 R 15:09
9. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) 55:33 S 8:49 T1 00:54 B 30:03 T2 00:26 R 15:23
10. Alessandro Fabian (ITA) 55:38 S 8:59 T1 00:55 B 29:50 T2 00:26 R 15:29
DNF: Matt McElroy (USA), Seth Rider (USA), Eli Hemming (USA), Javier Gomez (ESP), Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), Jelle Geens (BEL).
WTS Men's Points Rankings
1. Vincent Luis (FRA) 4180
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 3783
3. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3687
4. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 3325
5. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 3255
6. Marten Van Riel (BEL) 2989
7. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 2905
8. Léo Bergere (FRA) 2512
9. Hayden Wilde (NZL) 2485
10. Jelle Geens (BEL) 2438