Conditions were wet, slippy and cold for the WTS final in Rotterdam, the first time the Dutch city had featured on the WTS calendar.
WTS leader Spaniard Mario Mola was the man to beat, and had to finish in the top 5 to defend his 2016 title – on paper a straightforward task but with difficult conditions, a strong field and a twisty bike course, it was important that he stayed in touch with any breaks that would take place.
As predicted Richard Varga from Slovakia led the swim, with Britain’s Jonny Brownlee exiting 8 secs down and Mola exiting 26secs down, one of his best swims of the season.
The early lead bike group of 15 included Brownlee, the newly crowned 70.3 World Champ Javier Gomez, Luis, Varga, Ben Kanute from USA, and Aaron Royle from Australia, with Mola, Fernando Alarza (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) all in the first chase pack just 20 seconds back.
By the end of lap one this gap had reduced to 15secs and despite efforts by Brownlee and Kanute to make a break the two groups merged just after two laps in.
Brownlee set out on the run meaning business with Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway, and for a short time they had a slight advantage. However they were soon caught by Gomez and Luis with Mola in 5th – the position that he needed to maintain if he was to retain the title.
Still obviously off-form and far from feeling his best, a struggling Brownlee couldn’t maintain the pace and the fight for the podium became a battle between Louis and Blummenfelt for first and second, and Mola and Gomez for third and fourth. Luis would prove the stronger and took to the front with a hundred yards to go, while Mola out sprinted fellow teammate Gomez to take the podium’s final spot, and the world title. He becomes the second man after Gomez to win back-to-back titles.
No better time to get his first win of the season, @vincentluistri IS BACK! #RotterdamGF Champion! pic.twitter.com/nk1ZU1Sfu3
— TriathlonLIVE (@triathlonlive) September 16, 2017
Brownlee finished in fifth place and took sixth place in the series, while a 10th place finish for Tom Bishop saw him finish the series in 7th place.
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