Brownlee triumphs at Triathlon European Championships
02 June 2019 / 13:56
Alistair Brownlee admitted confidence was flowing through him before he even took to the start line after claiming his fourth ETU Triathlon European Championship title in Holland.
The double Olympic champion cemented his return to form with victory in Weert to make it back-to-back wins on the international circuit after taking World Cup gold in Italy earlier this month.
And ahead of next weekend’s AJ Bell World Triathlon in Leeds, Brownlee is more than satisfied with his progression as he ramps up his preparations for Tokyo 2020 qualification.
“I was really happy to be on the start line at the European Championships,” said Brownlee. “I knew my form was good after racing in Italy a few weeks ago.
“The swim went well, I was out second or third in the end. I then pushed hard on the bike to break the field up and, even though we worked very hard, we didn’t get a gap until the last few laps.
“The run felt ok – I had to hold off a fast-running Joao Pereira, but with a couple of km to go, I knew I’d won and was able to ease off a little bit and think about next week.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be winning races again after a bit of time out.”
Brownlee enjoyed a solid swim before leading a hard-working bike pack of seven, which included British teammate Ben Dijkstra until it was whittled down to a four-way breakaway group.
The 31-year-old then stamped his authority over the field during the run, pushing ahead to build up a 12-second gap by the end of lap one and increasing his advantage as the race continued.
Eventual silver medallist Joao Pereira clocked the quickest run leg to claw back some time after falling behind in the bike stage, but it was not enough to prevent the Brit winning by 22 seconds.
Barclay Izzard was the next best of the Brits after finishing in fifth position following a solid all-round performance, while Calum Johnson was 24th and Dijkstra came in 38th place.
But Brownlee was not the only Brit to taste success in Weert, as teammate Beth Potter claimed her first international standard distance medal of her career.
Potter struck gold a day earlier in the women’s race after exiting the water alongside compatriots Olivia Mathias and Sophie Alden, with all three Brits within the top ten going into the cycle.
A large bike pack led by Mathias formed and remained stable throughout the 40km duration, with the chase group over 90 seconds back before Potter took command in the run.
The 2016 Olympic 10,000m athlete clocked by far the swiftest split on two feet to take the tape nearly a minute ahead of Sandra Dodet of France.
Mathias was eighth after being caught on the run by a number of fast-finishing chasers, while former Paratriathlon Guide Jenny Manners finished 19th and Alden came in 22nd.
Potters’ triumph was her first international triathlon title since making the switch to the sport in 2017 and she insisted she still has a lot to learn despite experiencing the ‘perfect race’.
“That was pretty much the perfect race for me, which is something you can rarely say,” she said.
“I had a good swim and placed well coming out and my aim was making the front pack of the bike.
“I knew that if I could help control the race, it would leave me in a strong position coming out onto the run, and I knew going into the final discipline that I was the quickest on paper.
“I wanted to do as little work as possible to ensure I had something left in the tank. I’m learning a lot with every race. It hasn’t been an easy transition, but it’s starting to pay off.”