The script was written months ago, and the Brownlee brothers joined Javier Gomez in playing their parts to perfection. In a tight, fast race the three men exited the water at the front of the field, raced the majority of the bike at the head of the pack, and took Gold (Alistair), Silver (Gomez) and Bronze (Jonathan) following a gutsy battle.
Richard Varga led the swim from start to finish, Javier Gomez quickly jumping onto his toes as the pair worked hard to string the field out. As expected, Jonathan And Alistair Brownlee swam side by side and joined Varga and Gomez (along with Vasiliev and Fabian) at the front of the field. The swim was fast (16:53), and the front six came out of Transition with a 20-second lead over a large chase pack.
Crucially, though, Jonathan Brownlee incurred a 15 second penalty for mounting his bike early (which he had to serve on the run). Behind them, 2000 gold-medallist Simon Whitfield was forced to withdraw after a horrible crash coming out of Transition as the chase pack came together. The six leaders were working well and maintained the 20-second lead through the first lap, but the chase pack quickly got their act together and started to close them down. 20-seconds became 9-seconds and by the mid point of Lap 3 we had one large group. Step forward Stuart Hayes. A domestique, a protector, an outstanding cyclist. Hayes was simply immense, riding at the front for the majority of the bike, working together with the Brownlees, Varga and Gavin Noble to keep the pace up. It was very much a pack ride, with few – if any – significant breaks (Alistair Brownlee darted off the front with a smile on his face at one point late on but was soon brought back in).
Coming out on to the run and it was all about three men. The Brownlee brothers and Gomez immediately moved away from the rest of the field at a cracking pace. The three worked tirelessly together, opening up a 27 second lead on Vidal in fourth at the end of lap two. Then things started to change. Jonny Brownlee was the first to crack, dropping off the back of Gomez and Alistair early on lap three. Was it impetus for Alistair? Maybe. As three became two Alistair put his foot down and opened up a small gap on Gomez. It wasn’t a big gap, but it was a gap. And slowly but surely it started to grow. Gomez was holding on but Alistair’s lead grew inch by inch. As Jonny served his penalty going into the final lap – he still came out in third – Alistair had a five second lead on Gomez.
It was all he needed. From that point on Alistair Brownlee was in control. Five seconds stretched to ten as Gomez did everything that he could to try and stay in contention. But as he has been over and over again for the past few years Alistair was simply too good. Crossing the line at a walk with the Union Jack draped over his shoulders with a 29:07 10km, Alistair Brownlee had sealed British Triathlon’s first medal at an Olympic games. Javier Gomez came in a superb second, with Jonathan Brownlee a gutsy third.
“It’s not me, it’s the two Brownlees,” Stuart Hayes said after coming in 37th. “Team tactics definitely helped. Those guys are amazing – I can’t imagine anyone beating them. It was a great race. It’s a great moment for British triathlon – what a great day.”
We’ll have more reaction as it comes in
London 2012 Olympics, Men’s Race
Top 5 Men
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:46:35
2. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:46:36
3. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:46:56
4. David Hauss (FRA) 1:47:14
5. Laurent Vidal (FRA) 1:47:21