British pro penalized for blocking world champ Javier Gomez during the European Championships.
British triathlon has been caught in a ‘team orders’ storm after Alistair Brownlee took the European title in Spain at the weekend.
While Brownlee, 23, raced his younger brother Jonny to a one-two finish in Pontevedre, Great Britain teammate Harry Wiltshire was disqualified for aggressively impeding world champion Javier Gomez during the race.
Gomez is viewed as the biggest medal threat to the Brownlees at next year’s Olympic Games.
But, competing in his home town, race officials ruled he was deliberately blocked by Wiltshire on the swim leg before fading badly on the run to finish 40th.
An upset Gomez tweeted after the race: “Disappointed with what Harry Wiltshire did in the swim, hope ITU penalizes him hard. Everyone saw it, it’s pretty sad, poor boy.”
Triathletes often swim close to one another during races to allow them to expend less energy in the water.
But the video shows Wiltshire battling in close quarters with Gomez away from the racing line before appearing to slow up to ‘block’ the Spaniard on the swim exit.
Team orders are an accepted part of elite level triathlon on the bike leg where a rider may be used to help a senior athlete gain a better race position for the run.
There has been speculation that the British team may hand one of its three Olympic spots to a rider to support the two Brownlees — the best medal hopes for 2012.
Read more: The Sun