The World Triathlon Series reaches a thrilling climax in London this weekend, renewing the Brownlee brotherly rivalry that captured the imagination at last year’s Olympic Games.
It has been labelled a sequel, an act of deja vu, but whatever billing it gets, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee know they return to the same course, fighting the same rival (Javier Gomez) when they bid for world glory on Sunday.
Very simply, if either Brownlee wins, the world title is his. Winner takes all.
Alistair has to enter the race as favourite. He is the reigning Olympic champion, the man who mastered the course 12 months ago, and is in powerful form after recovering from injury.
Twice a world champion already, Alistair has won every Olympic distance outing since returning to action and leads the series by 55 points, per worldtrilondon.com.
However, brother Jonathan has unfinished business with the course. His Olympic dream was effectively ended the moment he picked up a 15-second time penalty, eventually claiming bronze last summer.
The frustration of that moment, coupled with the fact it is his world title to defend, makes him a dangerous threat to Alistair this weekend. Jonathan also holds a Hamburg win over his sibling this year.
A £180,000 prize awaits Sunday’s winner, per Neil Squires of the Daily Express, but Jonathan says his inspiration comes neither from that nor brotherly rivalry:
It’s strange. I want to win the World Championship but I don’t ever relate it to beating Alistair. That’s a secondary thing. If I do win he will take it well—he knows how hard I train.
Alistair is more competitive. As the older brother, it is perhaps understandable he feels the need to keep his sibling at arm’s length, as he relates in Squires’ article.
We’ll both swim as hard as we can and try to make a small group at the front; we’ll both go out and ride as hard as we can, sharing the work, to try to split the race up. Then it will be the run. That will just be a race.
I remember him (Jonathan) telling me I was doing this wrong or that wrong when we were out cycling a week or two after he beat me in Hamburg.
I was thinking, ‘You can’t tell me what to do. Right you little git, I’m going to make sure I win this’.
Gomez is the third factor in the equation. He separated the brothers by taking silver at the Olympics and is also a two-time world champion.
However, his bid to claim victory is the toughest of the three on paper by virtue of the fact the Brownlee brothers can work together.
If the Brits stay fit—crucial for Alistair after ankle problems—and manage the race effectively to allow each other to shoulder the workload, they will be able to squeeze Gomez into third before fighting it out for personal glory themselves.