Jonny Brownlee: I'll race Alistair in London triathlon on equal terms

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer
At the London 2012 Olympics Alistair (right) and Jonny Brownlee won bronze and gold respectively
World Triathlon Series - London men's and women's races
Date: Sunday, 31 May
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Two and online from 14:50-18:00 BST.

Jonny Brownlee says he is ready to race his brother Alistair as a true equal as the pair prepare to go head-to-head for the first time this season on Sunday.

Younger by two years at 25, Jonny has only occasionally come out on top when they have raced with both fully fit.

But two wins from three World Series races this year have bolstered his confidence before their London date.

"I felt like I've been competing as equals with him for the last few years," Jonny told BBC Sport.

"But it's still always been in the back of my mind that if he's in Olympic form, no-one can beat him.

"This year I've been very fortunate with the way my training's gone, with the fact I've raced early and been able to get those races done.

"Being able to get some more training in now means I've got a very good chance of racing him as an equal. Maybe that will change by the end of the season, but in London, definitely."

Sunday's race is the first of two World Series events over the shorter sprint distance, in which the triathletes race over a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run rather than the standard distance of 1500m, 40km and 10km.

That too gives Jonny, the 2012 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist, a possible advantage over his elder brother; his most notable victory over Alistair came over the sprint distance in Hamburg two summers ago.

He says: "The sprint has been good for me. I'm the reigning world sprint champion, although only because it hasn't happened for about three years.

"But it's almost more uncertain than the standard distance - because the swim is shorter and the bike is shorter, there's less time to pull away from people.

"And then when you hit the run, little things make big differences. If you're two seconds behind coming out of the second transition it will be game over straight away.

'Aggressive' Jonathan Brownlee wins on Gold Coast

"A lot of the athletes have travelled all round the world now for World Series races. That's a hard thing to do as an elite triathlete, and the effects show up most in a sprint race, because if you are just a tiny bit off, you lose that top-end speed."

Brownlee Jr lies fourth in the overall standingsexternal-link behind series leader and defending champion Javier Gomez, but has only competed in three events to Gomez's five. Alistair, lying eighth, has won one and finished secondexternal-link in his two events since returning from injury. The athlete with the highest number of points from five Series events plus the Grand Final is crowned world champion.

Jonny credits his fine start to the year - he won in Auckland and on the Gold Coast after struggling in his season-opener in Abu Dhabi - to more race-specific sessions in training and a better understanding of when to rest.

"When you win that creates mental confidence, especially when you can win in a pure triathlon, where you show no weakness like in the Gold Coast.

"I think I would have taken some beating in Auckland even if Alistair was there. I felt so good on the run.

"It's easy to say that when I wasn't pushed to the end, but he would have had to be on very good form to beat me.

"The Gold Coast would have been very interesting. Al being there would have changed the race completely. But unless he was on Olympic form, the run would have been very close."

In the past Jonny has said that, should the two of them find themselves clear on the run, he would wait for his brother to make the first move - not only a reflection of the dynamic of their relationship, but also their respective strengths as runners.

Alistair Brownlee beaten in thrilling sprint by Javier Gomez in Yokohama

"I would still wait for him to make the first move, because I like to think that I've still got the fastest sprint," he says. "That goes back to my teenage days playing football.

"When you get on to the blue carpet it can be very hard, because it's seldom a pure sprint. Anything can happen. But I would wait for his move and then try to go off that.

"I think it's very hard to beat Alistair by trying to out-suffer him. He can out-suffer everyone, out-tough us all.

"You wouldn't want to go for a 10km flat-out all the way, because he can outlast you. So you have to be tactically better, so that when you go into the final kilometre, you make him go to the front, use his energy and his sprint, stay with him and try to kick off that.

"But he's so hard to beat, because even if he's not on his best form, he'll stick with you and try to out-suffer you."

World Triathlon Series schedule
7 MarchAbu DhabiMario Mola
29 MarchAucklandJonathan Brownlee
11 AprilGold CoastJonathan Brownlee
25-26 AprilCape TownAlistair Brownlee
16 MayYokohamaJavier Gomez
31 MayLondon
18-19 JulyHamburg
22-23 AugustStockholm
5-6 SeptemberEdmonton
15-20 SeptemberChicago - Grand Final

Watch the full interview with Jonny Brownlee and live coverage of the men's and women's races from London on Sunday, 31 May from 14:50-18:00 BST on BBC Two and online.

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