Non Stanford and Vicky Holland podium at Rio Olympics test event

The hotly-anticipated Rio 2016 triathlon test event saw Brits Non Stanford and Vicky Holland secure two automatic spots for GB after taking silver and third respectively, while Alistair Brownlee finished tenth after struggling with an ankle injury.

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As many expected, it was current WTS title holders Javier Gomez and Gwen Jorgensen who reigned supreme on Copacabana Beach yesterday (Sunday 2 August), with Gomez booking his place at a third Olympics, while Jorgensen will be racing her second.

Vincent Luis (FRA) and Richard Murray (RSA) both fulfilled their country’s requirements to line up again in Rio next year as they rounded out the men’s podium.

Women’s race

Following the 1500m sea swim, Jodie Stimpson was the leading British athlete with Stanford and Holland close behind. Helen Jenkins unfortunately was kicked several times during the swim, forcing her to withdraw.

The hilly multi-lap bike course saw a group including Stimpson, Stanford, Holland, Jorgensen and Sarah True (USA) break away and stay away. After the first few kilometres of the run, Holland, Stanford, True and Jorgensen managed to forge ahead, before disaster struck for Holland when she tripped over a barrier on the third lap and fell heavily.

Holland recovered but Jorgensen and Stanford had gone and she was left to fight True for bronze, which she achieved brilliantly. Stanford and Holland now need another podium finish at the Grand Final in Chicago next month to secure pre selection. Jodie Stimpson finished tenth, a solid result after injury.

“It was paramount I did well today for selection really and it’s boosted my confidence after a tough couple of years,” said Stanford. “The hill was pretty tough, there’s no two ways about it. We have smaller gearing on our bikes to help us get up. Great fast technical descent, I really enjoyed it. I think that tested a few people. All in all, it was a fantastic day and now I need to keep my head down and work towards Chicago.”

Men’s race

The men’s race got underway shortly afterwards, with two groups forming on the one-lap ocean swim at Copacabana Beach. Among the lead group were Richard Varga (SVK), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and a string of French men including Luis, Dorian Coninx (FRA) and Pierre Le Corre (FRA) exiting the water first, along with Gomez and Luis.

Alistair Brownlee swam and biked superbly, sticking with the lead group in both legs and putting himself in a very strong position for a medal as he left T2. However, he struggled with an ankle injury on the run and had to ease off on the last lap.

Gomez and Luis forged ahead to close in on gold and silver, while Murray worked hard to claw back lost time and take bronze. Brownlee finished tenth, and GB’s Adam Bowden managed to finish 12th after putting in a strong run.

Men’s podium, left to right: Vincent Luis, Javier Gomez, Richard Murray

Brendan Purcell, performance director at British Triathlon, said: “Alistair wanted to hang on to third place but his injury let him down today. His swim and bike showed again that can get into a winning position and he almost held on, so although it wasn’t the result he wanted, there were a lot of positives.

“It’s been a good event overall, but obviously disappointing for some. Everyone has taken full advantage of the opportunity to experience what next year might be like.”

Women’s top ten

1. Gwen Jorgensen (USA) 01:58:46
2. Non Stanford (GBR) 01:59:05
3. Vicky Holland (GBR) 01:59:27
4. Sarah True (USA) 01:59:46
5. Barbara Riveros (CHI) 02:00:08
6. Katie Zaferes (USA) 02:00:26
7. Anne Haug (GER) 02:00:57
8. Annamaria Mazzetti (ITA) 02:01:00
9. Rachel Klamer (NED) 02:01:01
10. Jodie Stimpson (GBR) 02:01:04

Men’s top ten 

1. Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) 01:48:26
2. Vincent Luis (FRA) 01:48:40
3. Richard Murray (RSA) 01:49:01
4. David Hauss (FRA) 01:49:32
5. Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) 01:49:32
6. Aaron Royle (AUS) 01:49:34
7. Mario Mola (ESP) 01:49:37
8. Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) 01:49:41
9. Joao Silva (POR) 01:49:46
10. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 01:49:54

(Images: Delly Carr / Werner Araujo)

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