As the proudest of Yorkshiremen, it may as well have been carved into stone that the Brownlee brothers would put on a show for the people of the white rose county when the World Triathlon Series rolled into Leeds on Sunday.
There was no doubt in the manner in which they would do it, either, dominating through swim, bike and run before double Olympic champion Alistair beat younger brother Jonny to the line. Tradition must be upheld, it appears.
And with teammates Adam Bowden and Tom Bishop finishing fourth and fifth respectively – Spain’s Fernando Alarza preventing an all-British podium – the British boys made history too, marking the first time four competitors from the same nation have finished in the top five in a WTS event.
As has been the case on so many occasions, the Brownlees established a healthy lead from the end of the swim, never once surrendering to the chasing pack.
That advantage was extended to 73 seconds as they transitioned into the run, their team effort only diminishing with 4km to go as Alistair pushed on the accelerator.
He couldn’t help but smile as he ran onto the blue carpet for the final lap, the run to the line paved with, what seemed, Yorkshire’s most vociferous fans – as Jonny crossed just 12 seconds behind.
“It was really, really special. You can never expect to win a race and you never know quite what is going to happen,” said Alistair.
“It was just magical. The last few hundred metres and the lead-up to Millennium Square was amazing, and one of the experiences I think I’ll remember for the rest of my career.
“It got really close at one point and to be honest, I thought [the race] was going to come back together, and Jonny said we should sit up at one point.
“But I just said keep working, and we were working really hard. I think the first three laps of the bike circuit was the hardest we have ever ridden in a race and that took it out of us in the run definitely.”
And despite once again being one step lower than his older brother on the podium, there were no hard feelings for the younger Brownlee.
“It was an amazing feeling coming into Leeds town centre with just Alistair, but it was a hard way of doing that race,” Jonny said.
“For it to be basically the two of us from the end of the swim, if I want to beat Alistair that’s not the way to do it.
“I basically turned it into a long-distance hardman’s race, and he’s a bit harder than me.”
Earlier in the day, a valiant team effort from Britain’s women saw Jess Learmonth finish just 1:30 short of the podium in sixth place, as ITU World champion Flora Duffy took the win.
Rio 2016 Olympian Non Stanford finished just outside the top ten in 11th, while India Lee crossed the line in 17th.
“I was more than happy to drop back [for the team] and push on to help Non. It’s something we need to practice so this is a great place to practice it,” said Learmonth.
“We’ve all had our niggles and little illnesses before the race so we never knew how it was going to pan out, but in triathlon you never do.”
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