Jonathan Brownlee was the class act at the second round of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Auckland, New Zealand, winning gold ahead of ITU World Champion, Javier Gomez (ESP). Lucy Hall had a strong result as Gwen Jorgensen (USA) dominated the women’s race.
Brownlee was always in a good position throughout the race, having been assisted through the swim by Leeds based Slovakian, Richard Varga, and Tom Bishop on the bike.
He burst out of the second transition and established an immediate lead over Gomez and Pierre Le Corre of France. Current world number one, Mario Mola (ESP) was a minute down by this stage.
Running through heavy rain in the final stages of the 10km run, Brownlee was visibly delighted with victory. He celebrated around the final corner and with the crowd in the final metres before crossing the finishing line as a clear winner.
He said: “In [the previous round in] Abu Dhabi I made many mistakes, and I’ve been beating myself up about it for the last few weeks. I’ve been training hard because I didn’t want to do that again, and I wanted to be able to show how good I was.”
He added: “I really enjoyed it, I felt good and I’m pleased to win.”
Brownlee now takes up the world number one ranking, which he’ll carry through to the next round on the Gold Coast in two weeks. Tom Bishop finished 13th, a good result and reward for his efforts on the bike.
Lucy Hall and World Triathlon Series newcomer, Jessica Learmonth, led the first lap of the women’s swim before Spain’s Carolina Routier took over on the second lap and through the first transition.
Jorgensen was not part of the initial front group of cyclists, but benefited from the work rate of Olympic silver medallist, Lisa Norden (SWE), and bridged up to the leaders. Hall and Norden took the initiative throughout the bike section, sharing the lead.
Norden dropped out during the run whilst Jorgensen took up the running straight out of the second transition and dominated the 10km to win comfortably from teammate Katie Zaferes.
Hall finished 17th, one of her best senior results. Jess Learmonth suffered a mechanical issue during the bike and withdrew from the race.
Hall said: “That was great fun until the last lap of the bike. Lisa Norden was trying to break things up and that made it extra tough on the climbs. The run was hard for me, but I’m happy non the less with 17th place.”
British Triathlon Performance Director, Brendan Purcell said: “Jonny has had a very good winter and he got validation of that today. Now he can push on for the rest of the year. It was good to see Tom working strongly on the bike too.”
Purcell expects the world champion, Gomez, to come back stronger in future rounds, but was full of praise for Brownlee’s performance: “Jonny was outstanding. You can only beat the people in front of you and he did that comfortably.”
Commenting on the women’s race, he concluded: “That was really good from Lucy, and Jess too, she has been unwell, it was touch and go whether she was going to race, so it was good to see her swim and bike well until the mechanical.”
Olympic Champion, Alistair Brownlee, missed this round through injury, but is hopeful of a return in time for the fourth round of the Series in Cape Town. Former ITU World Champion, Non Stanford is also hopeful of a return in time for Cape Town.
The ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final will take place in Chicago in September.
Results, Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Auckland (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run):
1. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 2:09:04
2. Katie Zaferes, USA, 2:10:42
3. Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 2:10:58
17. Lucy Hall, GBR, 2:14:10
DNF Jessica Learmonth, GBR