It was a disappointing day for the New Zealand men at a fiercely contested ITU Dextro Energy World Champs Series Triathlon in London overnight, with none able to finish in the top ten to book a spot at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Bevan Docherty was best of the Kiwis in atrocious conditions, coming home in 15th place, a result that leaves the two time Olympic medallist having to qualify for London early in the 2012 season. 23 year old Ryan Sissons showed his potential with an impressive 22nd place in the strongest field of the year while Clark Ellice was 36th, Kris Gemmell 40th, James Elvery 41st, Martin van Barneveld 48th and Tony Dodds 49th on a day when many of the Kiwis failed to find a spark in their running legs.
Elvery swam superbly, as did Gemmell to both make the lead group of 22 out of the water alongside the big guns of the Brownlee brothers (GBR), Javier Gomez (ESP) and Jan Frodeno (GER). Dodds, Sissons and Docherty were not far back and settled into the chase in a group of identical size, some 13 seconds down on the leaders after the first lap of 8 on the bike leg, by which time the rain was starting to fall heavily on the flat but technical course.
Those two groups were soon together but as the sun came shone briefly it was Elvery who instigated a break off the front, taking with him some serious company in Alistair Brownlee and Alexander Brukankov (RUS). Former world champion and three time Olympian Ivan Rana (ESP) bridged the gap to make it a lead group of four with a 17 second advantage at the halfway point. This group worked well together to head out on to the run with a sizeable 1 minute 13 second advantage, with the other five Kiwis all in the chase pack as the rain bucketed down.
Brownlee immediately hit the lead, with Elvery the first of the lead group to lose contact and fall back through the field while in the chase pack it was Docherty and Sissons the best of the Kiwis in 16th and 18th through the first lap of four on the run.
The pace and depth of the racing was clearly evident though with the likes of Olympic gold medallist Jan Frodeno unable to stay in the top ten and other leading contenders falling back through the field.
Docherty ran consistently but was unable to bridge the gap to the top ten, finishing 25 seconds back from an Olympic qualifying spot. Such are the small margins in ITU triathlon though that 25 seconds is now the difference between success and failure on a day such as this, with the depth in the sport never stronger.
The men will now turn their attention to early 2012 for their next chance to earn spots on the New Zealand team at a yet to be determined ITU World Champs Series event. Whether they will have two or three spots to chase will depend on Olympic ranking points, with only the top 8 nations in the world getting three spots in London.
ITU Dextro Energy World Championship Series
1500m swim, 42km bike, 10km run
1. ALISTAIR BROWNLEE GBR 01:50:09
2. ALEXANDER BRYUKHANKOV RUS 01:50:34
3. JONATHAN BROWNLEE GBR 01:51:04
4. JAVIER GOMEZ ESP 01:51:16
5. STEFFEN JUSTUS GER 01:51:25
6. LAURENT VIDAL FRA 01:51:27
7. DAVID HAUSS FRA 01:51:32
8. BRAD KAHLEFELDT AUS 01:51:40
9. SVEN RIEDERER SUI 01:51:41
10. VINCENT LUIS FRA 01:51:41
15. BEVAN DOCHERTY NZL 01:52:06
22. RYAN SISSONS NZL 01:52:21
36. CLARK ELLICE NZL 01:52:58
40. KRIS GEMMELL NZL 01:53:10
41. JAMES ELVERY NZL 01:53:13
48. MARTIN VAN BARNEVELD NZL 01:53:37
49. TONY DODDS NZL 01:53:55