Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee put up a spirited fight, but in the end two-time defending world champion Vincent Luis took the win at the World Cup in Valencia. Despite having turned his sightst to long distance racing for a few years, Brownlee showed he still has enough speed and power to sprint with the world’s best short-course athletes. It might not have been enough to top the speedy Luis, but the silver-medal finish proved Brownlee is worthy of a spot on the British Olympic team.
There was also a sprint for the bronze medal as Belgium’ Jelle Geens outsprinted France’s Pierre le Corre.
South Africa’s Henri Schoeman was first out of the water, with Brownlee, Luis and Le Corre following close behind as the group sprinted on to the bike. The lead group of four found themselves trying to hold off a strong chase pack that included Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt, his countryman Gustav Iden and Geens.
Schoeman may have been the fastest swimmer, but on the bike Brownlee, Luis and Le Corre pushed him to his limit. It wasn’t long before the South African lost their wheel and fell back to the chase group, which was about fifteen seconds behind.
Great teamwork at the front kept the first three men ahead of the the chasers, while behind the chase group was caught by a giant group. Despite the size of this group, they were unable to get Luis, Brownlee and Le Corre back in sight. They flew into T2 and appeared on track to take the podium – the question was, what order would they finish?
After a quick transition Le Corre was first onto the run course. However, in a blink of an eye, Brownlee and Luis were back breathing down his neck and after about one km Le Corre was dropped. At that point Geens was suddenly in the picture in fourth, giving Le Corre reason to worry about a spot on the podium.
All of which set up the sprint finish – Luis took the title in 50:23, taking his fourth consecutive win of the ymeari. Brownlee took silver and a handful of seconds behind him Geens rounded out the podium.