Why older Brownlee should be the Olympic triathlon favourite
Rewind back to April and Alistair Brownlee was a hard sell when it came to identifying possible winners of the men’s triathlon at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The 2012 champion struggled in the afternoon sun and hot tarmac on Australia’s Gold Coast in his first triathlon for eight months since undergoing ankle surgery, eventually finishing 36th.
Completing the running section of the event ultimately undid the Yorkshire athlete, doing so in over 35 minutes. Those finishing on the podium were the best part of four minutes faster.
However, Brownlee has clearly taken great strides in his Olympic preparations in the period since, winning both of the last two events on the ITU World Triathlon Series.
The first was in his local area of Leeds and the 28-year-old followed up by beating his brother Jonathan for the second contest in succession in Stockholm.
Two significant points to take out of these performances were that Brownlee knocked at least four seconds off of his running time in each compared with his Australian effort and in Leeds he had his chief rival Javier Gomez behind in fourth.
Gomez was the star of the triathlon world in 2015, but it is worth noting that Brownlee only competed in three events – winning in Cape Town and London, alongside losing a memorable sprint finish to his Spanish rival in Japan.
Yet Gomez has only triumphed in one of his last four triathlon appearances.
Brownlee now has a few more weeks to sharpen up his running endurance further and key to his chances in Rio will be to avoid getting into a sprint finish with Gomez, with the 33-year-old perhaps slightly the faster over a short distance.
Based on current form, it is slightly surprising to see Gomez as the 11/10 favourite to win Olympic gold and finish one place better than he did four years ago.
Brownlee looks the much better bet at 9/4 on the basis he is on a two-competition winning streak and should only improve further before arriving in Brazil as he continues his comeback from injury.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.