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In a display of sheer dominance, Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee won his second Kitzbühel Dextro Energy World Championship Series title today by leading nearly wire to wire.
Reigning Ironman world champion Chris McCormack, in his return to the ITU, dropped out midway in the bike. Another of the sport’s greatest, Olympic gold and silver medalist Simon Whitfield, also dropped out.
The men started the day off with a wetsuit swim, as it was cold and rainy in Austria, with Brownlee leading out of the water and McCormack more than a minute behind him. Visibly frustrated during transition, McCormack had some difficulty getting his helmet on. His swim forced him to ride a good part of the first bike lap solo. He was in nearly last place.
Halfway during the bike leg, McCormack was 3 minutes down on the lead pack of 50 men. He was riding with three other athletes and dropped out somewhere in the fourth lap.
He later Tweeted: “Joined @simonwhitfield on the side of the road here in Kitzbuhel. Empty tank for me today 13 days after Ironman. Kids r fast. I had nothing.”
McCormack won Challenge Cairns less that two weeks ago.
Brownlee, who was pushing the pace during nearly the entire bike leg, was instrumental in a small break on the fifth of the six bike laps. Stuart Hayes of Great Britain, last year’s winner, and Reinaldo Colucci of Brazil rode with him, and they entered T2 about 30 seconds ahead of the chase pack.
Brownlee, with mud splattered on his face, was the first out of transition and his blistering pace quickly transformed Hayes and Colucci into specks on the screen behind him.
Brownlee was nearly done with the first lap of the run when the group McCormack was riding with was coming into T2. They were 5:17 down on Brownlee, who likely would have lapped McCormack if McCormack had stayed in the race.
“Wow?! How can you defeat this guy [Brownlee]?” the ITU’s announcer exclaimed as Brownlee began his second lap of the run. “He was first out of the water and drilling it on the bike.”
Brownlee led for the remainder of the race and gave a smile and thumbs up to the cameras as he rounded into the finish. Brownlee, who is racing the European Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, next weekend, visibly slowed down during the second 5K of his run. He later told an ITU reporter that this was intentional, as he didn’t want to run himself “into the ground” ahead of the European championships.
Russian Alexander Bryukhankov grabbed the silver today, and Switzerland’s Sven Riederer, who was the bronze medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics, came in third.
Manny Huerta was the surprising top American on the day. He finished 24th. Greg Bennett was 25th and Matt Chrabot, who was fourth in Kitzbühel last year, finished a disappointing 37th.
Brownlee’s win, his second World Championship Series win of 2011, put him into first place in the series rankings.
1. ALISTAIR BROWNLEE GBR 01:51:54
2. ALEXANDER BRYUKHANKOV RUS +00:44
3. SVEN RIEDERER SUI +01:05
4. WILLIAM CLARKE GBR +01:14
5. BRAD KAHLEFELDT AUS +01:16
6. LAURENT VIDAL FRA +01:19
7. VLADIMIR TURBAYEVSKIY RUS +01:23
8. DMITRY POLYANSKY RUS +01:26
9. VINCENT LUIS FRA +01:29
10. BEVAN DOCHERTY NZL +01:32