Sunday afternoon in Leeds is set to witness one of the greatest races of recent years, with seven athletes on the men’s start list packing a combined 12 World Championship titles, 73 WTS golds and over 160 WTS podiums. Oh, and all six podium places from the past two Olympic Games. So who are the Magnificent Seven?
Five-time World Champion Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) made his return to ITU racing in 2019 and has already bagged another WTS podium, earning a tough bronze in Bermuda. Gomez’s only previous appearance in Leeds was at the inaugural 2016 race, narrowly missing a podium spot in fourth. It was there that two more members of the Magnificent Seven rode away with the gold and silver; Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. A two-time Olympic and World Champion, this year’s race in Leeds also marks Alistair’s return to the ITU front line as he plots a potential course towards Tokyo 2020, racing alongside Jonathan, the World Champion in 2012 eager to banish the disappointment of his early retirement through illness 12 months ago.
Another scintillating Spaniard, Mario Mola, started 2019 with three consecutive World titles to his name, and the challenging Leeds course could be just the place to return to winning ways with gold in Abu Dhabi his only podium place so far this year. It was France’s Vincent Luis who ran him closest across the last campaign, and he, too has been displaying the kind of form that is likely to put him well in contention and hungry for gold amongst such illustrious company.
Finally, last year’s WTS Leeds winner Richard Murray and Rio 2016 silver medallist Henri Schoeman are the two South African lions in the Magnificent Seven who have the consistency and temperament to emerge on top of the pile on Sunday afternoon.
The last time these seven were on the same start line was WTS Hamburg back in 2014, when Alistair Brownlee took the honours. Add the likes of Fernando Alarza (ESP), Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) and Marten Van Riel (BEL), and this is one race not to miss.