With only one spot available for the Olympic Games in Tokyo for the British men (the country has two spots – one has been given to Jonathan Brownlee), all eyes were on the two men seemingly in the running for the second spot – two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee and up-and-coming star Alex Yee.
In the end the day went to Yee, who used his abilities as a former track runner to bound away from the field during the run to take his first WTCS title and seemingly assure himself a trip to Tokyo this summer.
It was a tough day for Alistair Brownlee, though, despite coming out of the water in second place and being very much in the mix throughout the bike. Starting the run, though, it immediately became apparent that Brownlee wasn’t himself – he fell back from the leaders as soon as the 10 km run started.
Adding insult to injury – literally – during the run we learned that the elder Brownlee had been disqualified for “unsportsmanship behaviour during the swim segment.” Video shown on TriathlonLive.tv appeared to show that Brownlee had pushed American Chase McQueen under the water
“That was a really tough day,” he told BBC Sport after the race. “I only knew I was disqualified on the last lap so it was a bitter end to it. In the middle of the swim, anything can happen. I’m in the middle of a stroke and I can guarantee that as bad was done to me 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after. It is a subjective field of play decision, but it is what it is. I was pretty sure that would be my last World Series race. I have struggled in the last three or four months with injury, I needed a miracle today, I have done everything I can and I needed some luck but I didn’t get it.”
Brownlee could still be named to the British team for Tokyo, but that appears unlikely.
Mike Cavendish, the performance director at British Triathlon, told the BBC that “We meet on Tuesday, and again a couple of weeks later. There are no guarantees but he (Yee) is in a good spot. We would have loved to see Alistair closer to the front but he has been carrying an injury. We will talk to Alistair, see where his head is at, talk to Alex as well and put all that into the mix.”
If the three-time Olympian doesn’t end up racing in Tokyo triathlon fans will still have a chance to see him race at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah where he’ll look to try and take the title after finishing second in the last two 70.3 worlds. He’s also qualified for the Ironman World Championship after setting a course record in winning the 2019 Ironman Western Australia title.