TRIATHLON Preview: Alistair Brownlee returns as Zaferes tries to stay perfect in Leeds

An ITU World Series title coming for American Katie Zaferes? (Photo: ITU)

The fourth stage of the 2019 ITU World Series is in Leeds (GBR) on Sunday, with the return of a double Olympic champion on the men’s side and American Katie Zaferes trying to extend her perfect season.

While the men’s division looked like it would continue to be the private property of Spain’s Mario Mola after his win in the season opener in Abu Dhabi (UAE), he has faded in the last two races and now stands ninth after finishing 26th in Hamilton (BER) and 29th in Yokohama (JPN). The current leaders:

1. 2,523 Vincent Luis (FRA)
2. 2,069 Fernando Alarza (ESP)
3. 1,887 Henri Schoeman (RSA)
4. 1,769 Bence Bicsak (HUN)
5. 1,716 Javier Gomez Noya (ESP)

Now back in the picture – for this week, anyway – is 2012 and 2016 Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee, who won his fourth European Championships last week and will be the favorite of the home crowd in Leeds.

Brownlee, whose brother Jonathon – the 2016 Olympic silver medalist – is 28th in the World Series standings in 2019, has said he has not decided whether to try for a third Olympic gold in 2020, or move up to the Ironman distance and seek new fame there.

In the meantime, no one in the men’s division has won more than one medal this season and the three races have had three different winners in Mola, Dorian Coninx (FRA) and Luis (FRA).

The women’s races have been dominated by the U.S. and especially by Zaferes, the former Syracuse track star, who is three-for-three in 2019. She led a U.S. 1-2 with Taylor Spivey in Abu Dhabi, edged Jessica Learmonth (GBR) in Bermuda and then led a U.S. sweep, ahead of Summer Rappaport and Spivey in Yokohama. The standings:

1. 3,000 Katie Zaferes (USA)
2. 2,458 Jessics Learmonth (GBR)
2. 2,458 Taylor Spivey (USA)
4. 2,000 Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR)
5. 1,715 Lotte Miller (NOR)

Last year in Leeds, South Africa’s Richard Murray won the men’s race, ahead of Mola and Luis. British star Vicky Holland won the women’s event over teammate Taylor-Brown, with Zaferes third.

Alistair Brownlee won at Leeds in 2016-17, with brother Jonathan second in 2016. Look for results here.