Since federated sports mainly turn around Olympic Games, the 1st year of a new cycle is like the transition season. Many stars will choose to leave the World Series to try new experiences.
This is what the current Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee since he decided to take part in the 70.3 Ironman circuit this year. Even if we may see him at the Leeds WTS race and the Grand Final, his brother Jonny will have to, for now, race without him.
In this current post-Olympic race, the known absence of Alistair Brownlee provokes the reversed scenario. Javier Gomez, Jonny Brownlee but also Richard Murray, Henri Schoeman or Mario Mola all mentioned their intentions to play 1st roles in the final this year. Many athletes, including Frenchies and Australians want to reach the world ranking. For that, they would have to be regularly on the races and perform as well.
Without the Olympic pressure, getting a selection and a number, athletes want to enjoy their new freedom and go back on track as they want to.
Jonny Brownlee the man without any title, kind of…
If the “Brownlee” name is a synonym of success and domination, despite his world titles in sprint (2) and U23 (2010) Jonny has won the world title just once (in 2012). Since then, it even looks like a curse. In 2013 and 2014, he nearly was World Champion but he lost the title in the very last races of the season. And without his fainting moment for his arrival in Cozumel Grand Final last September, things would have been different.
The double-medalled in the OG wants to change things for 2017. As we can read it in Metro (British edition): “this year will be more relaxed than 2016 since not everything turns around the OG… I want to be world champion and race in Leeds, there will be less restraint this year… I hope I’ll spend more time in Leeds. For me, personally, I wish to stay in triathlon for the next 4 years as long as the body will handle it” Jonny said.
If his brother leaves the throne, succession won’t be automatic.
When both Brownlee brothers are on a race, they always managed to impose their style and push back what we thought was possible in terms of dynamics. During Stockholm race in 2014, the two brothers nearly did the bike course y themselves (excluding Richard Varga’s fall) to cross the line with more than one minute in advance before the others. This made their opponents understand that they’re better be collaborating with them since they don’t need anyone else to win.
Since more than half a decade, Brownlee brothers give full efforts in every discipline in order to eliminate of the race any opponent having a simple weakness in water or on the bike. If their historic opponent is Javier Gomez, there is a kind of gentleman’s deal that imposes a shared job on the bike and that the only running part will decide the final result.
For 2017, the conjecture will be way more uncertain since he won’t be able to count on his big brother’s help. If Alistair knew how to rule and get the cooperation of the others, Jonny inherited form this gift too, but, in this case, he’ll have to find new allies. This help might come from the Australian Aaron Royle since he decided to join the Leeds squad. With his victory in Cozumel Grand Final and his Olympic bronze medal and usual Jonny’s escape partner, the South-African Henri Schoeman is now a threat in the usual canvas. We still hope that frenchies, Vincent Luis, Pierre Le Corre and Dorian Coninx will come and play trouble-makers.
Opponents well prepared?
Brownlee’s strength is that they imposed a regime. In every race they are, they knew how to convince their escape partners to ride with them and even if this wasn’t really in their interest. This allowed them to isolate athletes as Richard Murray of Mario Mola.
Knowingly, we see more athletes creating new alliances. I some squads are now more restraint, the goal of success is a lot more collective and will somehow come with help during the race.
Are we really in a mutation and in the edge of an era? First indicators will be known in less than two weeks in Abu Dhabi’s first WTS race.