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Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee posted a 29:30 10K run split to earn the victory at the 2013 ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego. Despite comments in the pre-race press conference that Brownlee did not feel he was in his top form, he still managed to control the race from start to finish.
Brownlee made a statement early on in the race, exiting the swim behind only American Tommy Zaferes in a blazing time of just over 16 minutes. Javier Gomez (ESP) was not far off the lead pace and came out of the water only a few seconds behind his rival.
A group of nine made up of Brownlee, Gomez, Zafares, Aurelien Raphael (FRA), Aaron Royle (AUS), Fernando Alarza (ESP), Ivan Vasiliev (RUS), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Richard Varga (SVK) developed right away out of T1 with a large pack giving chase. As they always do, Brownlee and Gomez established a fiery pace and worked to separate themselves further from the main group, which was already 36 seconds back at the end of the first lap.
Despite the hard work by the Olympic medalists, the larger group led by Sven Riederer (SUI), Richard Murray (RSA), Jan Frodeno (GER) and Clark Ellice (NZL) had more momentum and started cutting the gap down quickly. Brownlee realized the chase pack was gaining ground and made an effort to get away on his own. By the 20K mark of the 40K bike the lead pack’s lead stood at a mere seven seconds, with Brownlee off the front by a few seconds.
Once the leaders were swallowed up, a main group of 34 was established with Gomez and Brownlee falling back to the middle of the pack. Russia’s Andrey Bryukhankov realized all of the fastest runners were riding around him and he decided to make a solo break on the sixth of eight laps. Denis Vasiliev (RUS) and Jesus Gomar (ESP) had the same realization and worked hard to catch up to Bryukhankonv, making a new lead trio as the athletes approached transition. They managed to earn a 20-second advantage into T2.
The gap was not nearly enough and Brownlee took the top spot within the first mile of the three-lap run. Brownlee absolutely dominated the 10K run and Murray looked strong in second, making for a race for the final podium spot. Portugal’s Joao Silva broke away and solidly placed himself in third and it appeared that the top-three positions were locked up as they headed onto the final lap. That’s exactly how the medals were handed out. Brownlee ran a 29:30 10K and crossed the finish line in 1:47:16 for the victory. Murray and Silva finished second and third, respectively.
“I’m sure you think I’m lying when I say I only have done six weeks of training,” Brownlee said at the finish line. “I did Abu Dhabi six weeks ago and I hadn’t really done much until then. I think it’s good I went without injury. I enjoyed that today. I felt great.”
“I didn’t know how fast I was going to run to be honest because it was only literally this week that I felt decent,” Brownlee said of trying to break away on the bike. “I don’t understand why there’s eight to 10 guys in that group and none of those guys finished in the top 10. I don’t know why they’re not pushing on the bike. It doesn’t make sense to me. I tried to get away a little bit; form a group of three or four of us, see if we could get away, but that didn’t work.”
“Purposely, my tactics today weren’t to go out too fast on the run,” Brownlee said of his blazing 10K run. “… Normally I run a very fast first K, so I didn’t want to run such a fast first K because I didn’t quite know how my fitness was going to be. And I’ve seen people struggle on this course toward the end. But I got to 2K, and I found myself on my own, running at a controlled pace, so it felt pretty good really.”
Murray was thrilled with his second-place finish. “I like the run because it’s different,” he explained. “It’s only three laps instead of four, but it makes it that much more difficult because once you’ve done two laps, the last one really really hurts. The spectators and guys on the side were screaming ‘Russia! Russia!’—hopefully someday they’ll get to know that that “RSA” means South Africa, but it was awesome!”
Gomez, who was a heavy pre-race favorite coming in to San Diego, was not himself on the run and finished eighth. “It was a pretty bad day,” he told Triathlete.com. “I was pretty sick after Auckland and it took me four or five days with a temperature. I thought I was recovered the past few days but during the race I felt pretty flat from the beginning. I didn’t have it during the swim, on the bike my legs were not good and on the run I ran as fast as I could but I knew I was going slow and I didn’t feel good.”
In the race within the race for the USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, former champions Jarrod Shoemaker (flat tire) and Hunter Kemper (too far back to be in contention) struggled. Matt Chrabot was the top team USA athlete in 14th, giving him his second national championship title (he also won in 2009).
“I had a tough time in the water and was trying to save as much energy as I could on the bike,” Chrabot said about his race. “I got out on the run and the spectators on the course just kept chanting ‘USA! USA!’ for 30 minutes, which was a warm feeling after the events this past week. I’m happy to represent my country with a national title.”
Omegawave ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego
San Diego, Calif. – April 20, 2013
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:47:16
2. Richard Murray (RSA) 1:47:38
3. Joao Silva (POR) 1:47:52
4. Steffen Justus (GER) 1:48:14
5. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:48:18