Jonny Brownlee wins triathlon World Cup in Italy

Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain in action during the Leeds World Triathlon event on June 09, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain in action during the Leeds World Triathlon event on June 09, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Brownlee tops the podium ahead of Switzerland’s Adrien Briffod and Spain’s Mario Mola.

Great Britain’s Jonny Brownlee was victorious at the Arzchena World Cup in Italy, an important points gatherer toward Tokyo 2020, set to take place in 2021, for those yet to qualify.

Jonny Brownlee, who is the sole male member of Team GB triathlon to have qualified for Tokyo 2020 so far, beat Switzerland’s Briffod and Spain’s Mario Mola in arguably the toughest sprint race of the calendar. Comprising a 750-metre swim, 20km bike ride and 5km run, on the notoriously hilly course, Jonny created a gap between himself and the Swiss athlete in the final lap of the race, finishing with a triumphant roar.

"In the run I felt really good," Jonny said after the race. "I know it’s easy to say that when you win, but I felt in control. I saw Alistair with about 1km to go and he said, ‘when you go, make sure you mean it’, and I made sure I did.”

Olympic ticket race

Defending Olympic champion and older brother, Alistair, finds himself in a precarious position in terms of qualifying for the Summer Games. There is currently one position available on the British team for the men, with former training partner, Alex Yee – who came fourth in the first World Cup of the season at Yokohama in mid May – currently well positioned in second in the British rankings.

A third position for GB men could potentially become available if Tom Bishop can gain enough points in the next two races, including today's in Italy, to rate high enough in World Triathlon's rankings to gain an extra place at Tokyo 2020 for Team GB.

Bishop however, fell off his bike, and both he and Alistair found themselves in an unusual situation in which Alistair stopped to help Bishop get back on his bike and carry on, in order to gain as many points as possible toward that extra place for Team GB – even though Alistair may be selected ahead of Bishop.

Bishop finished 40th with Alistair opting not to finish in order to save his legs for next week’s big point scorer towards Tokyo, in the Brownlees’ home town of Leeds.

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the form triathlete of the first three races, couldn’t make it a fourth win in a row in the World Cup series but came in a creditable seventh and looking good ahead of Tokyo.

A perfect race

Earlier in the day, the women’s event saw a brilliant run from Germany’s Marlene Gomez-Islinger, which saw her win her first-ever World Cup event – her previous best was a ninth-place finish. The 28-year-old had flown straight from her German Olympic trials on Wednesday (26 May) in which she came 4th, and very much enjoyed what she described afterwards as a “perfect race”.

Switzerland's Julie Derron had no hesitation in espousing her Olympic credentials to her nation's selectors following her second-place finish. "It will be a dream of mine (to be selected for the Tokyo team)," she said in her post-race interview. "Most of my training squad will be there as well. I hope today is a big step for being selected for Tokyo.”

Italy had a home athlete to cheer with Verena Steinhauser claiming a second successive bronze on this course, and goes into the Leeds event next weekend feeling confident with her form.

The Tokyo 2020 triathlon begins on Monday 26 July 2021 at the Odaiba Marine Park.