Australia’s Brad Kahlefeldt has continued to put himself in a prime position for Olympic selection after a determined eighth-placed finish in today’s ITU Dextro Energy Triathlon World Championship race on a rain-swept Olympic course in London.
The race started with a one-lap, 1.5km swim in The Serpentine recreation lake in Hyde Park and was followed by a seven-lap 40km bike circuit that circled Buckingham Palace, taking the field under the famous Wellington Arch, before a four-lap, 10km run that finished back in Hyde Park.
As rain pelted down on the final two laps of the run, Kahlefeldt drove hard to maintain his place in the field but it was Great Britain’s man-of-the-moment Alistair Brownlee who ran away with the test event to confirm his Olympic gold medal favouritism.
It was a race that saw athletes from the major countries all vying for automatic selection with races within the race unfolding at a rate of knots.
Kahlefeldt, who won the last ITU World Championship round in Hamburg, did well to position himself in the run and his top ten placing moved him into a valuable eighth place on the all-important ITU World Rankings which will determine the National Federation’s qualification status for next year’s Olympics.
The Wagga-born Gold Coaster had to win the event to have any chance of automatic qualification today and will now have to continue to race consistently for the remainder of the Series to maintain his push for selection on his second Olympic team.
Kahlefeldt was followed today by fellow Australians Brendan Sexton (31st), Aaron Royle (45th) James Seear (53rd) & Chris McCormack who was a DNF early in the bike and who will return to Australia for treatment to his nagging hamstring.
Sexton maintains Australia’s second position of 16th on the ITU rankings.
The 32-year-old Kahlefeldt was well in contention after another solid swim but a brave breakaway by the effervescent Brownlee, lumbering Russian Alexander Brukhankov, and New Zealander James Elvery sealed the fate of the race as the rain made conditions tricky for riders.
With two laps remaining on the bike the leaders had over 40 seconds on the chase group, a move that played right into the hands of Brownlee, who has been the stand-out triathlete of the season.
At the bell lap and with a large rain cloud hovering overhead Brownlee and the leaders had opened up almost a minute on the chase group, which included spritely brother Jonathon Brownlee, Beijing Olympic medallists, Germany’s Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, Canada’s Simon Whitfield and New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty, defending world champion and current world number one Gomez and Kahlefeldt.
It was a move that played into Brownlee’s hands as the trio and Spain’s noted triple Olympian and former professional bike rider Ivan Rana hit the T2 together for the run with one commentator saying: â€œNo one will catch Alistair Brownlee unless they’ve got a motor scooter.â€
It wasn’t long before Britain’s favourite triathlon son showed his amazing wares on the Olympic course, lined with soaked to bone Londoners, who braved the rain to welcome home their latest sporting hero.
It became a matter of just how far Brownlee would win by and if his brother Jonathan could shake off defending world champion Gomez to make the podium and also guarantee him automatic Olympic selection.
And in an intriguing 10 kilometre run through driving rain, Alistair, lapping up his home town conditions, walked away to an emphatic victory.
â€œIt’s raining cats, dogs, elephants and anything else you care to mention in Hyde Park at the moment,â€ was one comment on Twitter.
For Brownlee it was a classic case of singing in the rain as he stopped to collect the white rose flag of Yorkshire, draped it over his shoulders, high fived everyone in sight and walked across the line to wait for his brother â€“ splitting an extraordinary 29mins 50seconds for the 10km run.
The strongly built Brukhankov was a delighted second with Jonathon, digging deep for third after producing the fastest run of the day (29.34) and sprinting away from one of the sport’s great runners in Gomez.
The ever-present world champion guaranteed his Olympic place and maintained his world number one ranking.
Kahlefeldt also produced a strong run leg, holding off Frodeno and a host of celebrated World and Olympic medallists to maintain his position as Australia’s number one male but like every other athlete; he was left to ponder what they would have to do to stop the Brownlee express.