The 2014 ITU World Triathlon Series comes to a climactic end in Edmonton on Monday, with a picturesque Canadian setting playing host to the last of eight stops on this year's slate.
However, all attention is currently focused on the Grand Final, which will see only the utmost elite of the sport's hierarchy swim, cycle and run their way to global bragging rights. The women's final takes place on Saturday, while Sunday will feature the men's championship.
|2014 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final Prize Money|
This event gives triathletes the added incentive of being the most lucrative event in the calendar, with the winner claiming a top prize of $30,000, the biggest individual reward available from the year's total $2.2 million pool.
Alistair Brownlee dominated the 2014 Men's Triathlon World Series Grand Final in Edmonton, with the gold medal in the World Series going to Spain's Javier Gomez Noya, his fourth of his career.
Younger brother Jonathan Brownlee lost ground on the Spanish duo of Gomez Noya and Mario Mola late, but he managed to secure his bronze medal with a fourth-place finish.
All eyes were on the trio of Gomez Noya and the Brownlee brothers, and the threesome gave fans exactly what they wanted, exiting the water within seconds of each other.
Alistair Brownlee made an early break in the biking section, and with Gomez Noya keeping a close eye on his only remaining competitor for the gold, Jonathan Brownlee, the British star quickly built a big lead.
Brownlee started his run with a 1:18 minute gap over the two other favourites and kept his pace incredibly high, and as shared by Triathlon Live, all eyes turned on the battle in the background.
Flanked by compatriot Mola, Gomez Noya stayed close to the younger Brownlee for the opening few laps, and with Mola making the pace, the British athlete soon found himself lagging behind.
Mola looked particularly strong on the day and knew a top-two finish would see him pass Brownlee for the silver, and he comfortably won the sprint against Gomez Noya. He immediately acknowledged the four-time World Champions, however, who looked like retaining his title from the very first race of the season.
TriatletasenRed's Pablo Bosh shared an image of the beautiful gesture:
That may have had something to do with the absence of Alistair Brownlee, however. On his day, the 26-year-old is as close to unbeatable as it gets. Going into the final lap, The Sun's Alex Terrell was simply amazed with what he was seeing:
Brownlee finished in a time of 1:48.44, 20 seconds faster than Mola. Jonathan Brownlee had to settle for fourth, good enough for the bronze.
Gomez Noya is quickly becoming the most dominant athlete in World Series history, tying Great Britain's Simon Lessing with four gold medals. But Edmonton once again proved that there is no athlete greater in a single event than the mercurial Alistair Brownlee, who only added to his collection following his two gold medals at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Gwen Jorgensen delivered on the expectations on Saturday, winning the 2014 Woman's Triathlon World Series with another victory in Edmonton.
The American athlete needed to finish in the top 16 to secure the gold, but fans were expecting the strong favourite to secure her fifth event win of the season.
Jorgensen struggled on the bike and trailed the race leaders by more than a minute when she laced up her running shoes, but an incredible final 10 kilometers saw her fly past the rest of the pack for a solo finish.
Sportstiks were simply amazed:
Jorgensen nearly won the world title in 2013, and after that near miss, victory in 2014 has to taste that much sweeter. USA's Sarah Groff took the silver, completing the American party north of the border, as shared by NYAC Triathlon Team:
Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels carried the torch for New Zealand in Saturday, opening a large gap on the American athletes in the swim and continuing to build on that lead while biking as a team.
Hewitt's second-place finish vaulted her into the top three of the World Series, gifting the Kiwi a surprising bronze medal. Great Britain's Jodie Stimpson came into the event in third place but had to give up too much time on the leading group, failing to make up for it in the run.
But there simply was no answer for Jorgensen, who dominated the final part of the race in epic fashion and finished with a time of 2:00.05, 16 seconds faster than Hewitt.
France's Dorian Coninx won the U-23 Word Title earlier in the day, edging out Britain's Marc Austin and Gordon Benson. The trio stuck together throughout the race, with the Frenchman making the difference in the final kilometers of the run.
TriathlonLIVE shared this image of the new world champion at the finish line:
Speaking with Triathlon.org's Erin Greene, Coninx was ecstatic with the title, expressing his admiration for Elite World Champion Alistair Brownlee:
It’s just amazing for me. It’s crazy, I would like to be the same as him [ youth, U23 and elite World Champion Alistair Brownlee] but it will be hard. It’s been a good weekend for France, good for young new French people.
Alistair's brother Jonathan Brownlee will be battling for the Men's title on Sunday, chasing Spanish favourite Javier Gomez Noya by less than 300 points. The Brit needs to win and Noya to finish outside of the top five to claim the title, but given the Spaniard's domination over the past year, such a scenario seems unlikely.
|Grand Final: Sunday's Schedule|
|4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET||Elite Men Grand Final|
|7.35 p.m. BST/2:35 p.m. ET||U23 Women World Championshop|
Noya was a lock to win the title until the event in Stockholm, where he came up with an illness and couldn't finish. If his form resembles his early-season dominance in any way, he should win this year's title comfortably.
Friday's action included a barrage of age-group events, but it was the juniors who drew some of the biggest plaudits, with France's Raphael Montoya confirmed by Triathlon Live as the winner of the men's juniors:
Behind him was the Australian duo of Jake Birtwhistle and Calvin Quirk in second and third, respectively, triathlon professionals Simon Whitfield and Charlotte McShane hailing those triumphs:
Montoya's win was particularly close with Birkwhistle finishing just a second behind, but it was ultimately the Frenchman's eight-minute and 33-second swim that set him apart, joint-fourth fastest on the day.
The United States team has an overall lead in the medal tally after Friday, however, per the official World Triathlon Twitter account:
Earlier in the day, the junior women's race was won by Laura Lindemann of Germany, and it was against a national duo in second and third, with Cassandre Beaugrand and Audrey Merle claiming silver and bronze respectively:
Coming to Edmonton, reigning men's world champion Javier Gomez leads the men's competition, while Gwen Jorgensen needs only place 16th or higher in the Elite Women's race to secure her maiden world title.
|Grand Final: Saturday's Schedule|
|3:45 p.m. BST/10:45 a.m. ET||Under-23 Men's Championship|
|7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET||Elite Women's Championship|
|9:15 p.m. BST/4:15 p.m. ET||Elite Women's Medal Cermony|
|9:30 p.m. BST/4:30 p.m. ET||Under-23 Men's Medal Ceremony|
|10:30 p.m. BST/5:30 p.m. ET||Elite Paratriathlon Championship|
|1:15 a.m. BST (Sun)/8:15 p.m. ET||Elite Paratriathlon Medal Ceremony|
The American star leads compatriot Sarah Groff by a massive 848 points and has already broken new ground this year by becoming the first athlete ever to win four consecutive World Triathlon Series events in the same season.
Gomez's task in defending his lead isn't quite as straightforward, with Jonny Brownlee bearing down, the Briton sitting only 282 points behind the Spaniard as things stand.
Speaking to BBC Sport prior to Saturday's big event, the 2012 world champion said: "Hopefully this will be a year of two halves for me. The first half of the season wasn't too great. Then before the Commonwealths I went and trained hard for five weeks and hopefully I'm a different athlete now."
That training would appear to have worked its magic after Brownlee won silver in Glasgow, but the task of a World Series crescendo may be considered a different brand of pressure.
Three-time champion Gomez will maintain a stellar run of form in the World Series, having placed in the top three of the last seven annual competitions, winning three and hopeful of adding a fourth.
Edmonton will be the scene where all those unanswered questions receive their answers, and the action reaches fever pitch as we provide all the latest results from Alberta.
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