Alistair Brownlee wins World Series comeback race
Alistair Brownlee is firmly back in Olympic triathlon title contention after comfortably winning his World Series return in Kitzbuehel.
Brownlee, 24, suffered an Achilles tendon tear in February and missed the first three races of the season.
Stuart Hayes on GB team-mates the Brownlees
“These guys are above the rest, nobody's going to get near them”
But he beat younger brother Jonny to gold in the Austrian Alpine sun without ever looking troubled by his injury.
Alistair Brownlee told BBC Sport: "This was very important. It couldn't get any better, could it, really?"
He added: "It was a long gap since last September to now. An Achilles tendon tear is a pretty bad injury and the Olympics are in six weeks, so it couldn't get more important.
"I knew I'd done a lot of training, this was more to go through the motions and I felt all right, really."
Kitzbuehel is expected to be the Brownlee brothers' last event before the Olympic race in Hyde Park.
Alistair came out of the swim in fifth place behind Jonny in third, then the pair briefly broke clear on the bike alongside Russia's Denis Vasiliev before being reeled in.
Stuart Hayes, who completes the GB Olympic men's team alongside the Brownlees, sought to justify his selection as a domestique to the brothers by controlling the pace at the front of the pack for the remainder of the bike ride.
GB's Olympic triathlon team
- Alistair Brownlee - 24. World champion in 2009 and 2011, tore Achilles early in 2012. Kitzbuehel was first major race since injury
- Jonny Brownlee - 22. Finished second in world behind Alistair last year, won 2012 San Diego and Madrid races in brother's absence
- Stuart Hayes - 33. Lone World series win came in Austria two years ago. In team primarily for speed on bike
- Helen Jenkins - 28. World champion in 2008 under old one-off format and in 2011 under new season-long format
- Vicky Holland - 26. Best-performing British woman beyond Jenkins in 2012, finishing fifth in San Diego and seventh in Madrid
- Lucy Hall - 20. Registered her first senior international victory in March but has barely competed at elite world level. Prized for speed in swim and bike disciplines
Alistair, safely tucked in behind Hayes during the bike, exploded away as the run began with Jonny taking up second place. Neither were caught.
Asked if it was good to have his older brother back racing, Jonny Brownlee told BBC Sport: "I thought it would be but to be honest, no! He makes it harder.
"The start of the bike was really hard," said the 22-year-old. "After we got caught I thought, 'Alistair, what have you done there? You've shot my legs, you've shot your legs.' But it had hurt everyone else.
"It was a good tactic, but I don't think I'm going to win again now Alistair's back.
"Stu Hayes was really important today. If we didn't have him it would have been much, much harder. He allowed us to rest, kept the pace high so nobody could get away, and if it wasn't for that we'd have had to keep on working."
Hayes, 33, eventually finished 29th. He said: "Once I got to the front [of the bike], I knew it was time to support Alistair and Jonny. It's great to see them getting one and two.
"It really does bode well for London. These guys are above the rest, nobody's going to get near them."
David McNamee impressed to finish ninth for GB, who entered eight men into the race, with Aaron Harris 19th, Phil Wolfe 31st, Mark Buckingham 36th and Ritchie Nicholls 37th.
Javier Gomez, one of the Brownlees' leading rivals for the Olympic title in August, finished third.
Saturday's women's race took place with a far weaker field of 41. Most notable among the list of absentees was world champion Helen Jenkins, who chose not to take part.
In Jenkins' absence, her Olympic team-mate Vicky Holland started well but never recovered from a mechanical problem which developed shortly after the swim-to-bike transition.
"It got to the point where it could have been potentially detrimental to my [Olympic] race in six weeks' time," said Holland of her battle with a locked brake.
Jodie Stimpson, who has not been selected for London 2012, was on course for her best result in an individual World Series race in almost a year.
She was third at one point in the ride but slipped to 11th in the run before a stomach problem forced her from the course in the final lap.
Vanessa Raw, Britain's other entrant, finished 26th as Switzerland's Nicola Spirig sprinted to victory.
British Triathlon has opted to pick Jenkins, Holland and a domestique in the form of youngster Lucy Hall for the Olympics, ahead of Stimpson and Liz Blatchford.
1 Alistair Brownlee (GB) 1 hour, 50 minutes, 13 seconds
2 Jonathan Brownlee (GB) 1:51:02
3 Javier Gomez (Spa) 1:51:18
4 Alexander Bryukhankov (Rus) 1:51:27
5 Dmitry Polyanskiy (Rus) 1:51:41
9 David McNamee (GB) 1:52:10
1 Nicola Spirig (Swi) 2hrs 05mins 37secs
2 Lisa Norden (Swe) 2:05:40
3 Andrea Hewitt (NZ) 2:05:43
4 Barbara Riveros Diaz (Chi) 2:05:45
5 Jessica Harrison (Fra) 2:05:57
26 Vanessa Raw (GB) 2:11:22
DNF: Vicky Holland (GB), Jodie Stimpson (GB)