The Brownlee brothers and their great rival Javier Gomez fell short as Spain’s Mario Mola won a thrilling ITU World Triathlon event in London.
Mola pipped South Africa’s Richard Murray in a sprint finish in Hyde Park as Alistair Brownlee slipped back to fourth behind Joao Pereira of Portugal.
Jonny Brownlee, beaten in dramatic fashion close to the line in last year’s event, had to settle for fifth with 2013 winner Gomez – the man in form after three victories already this season – sixth.
The event had been billed as a clash between the Bingley Harriers brothers and Gom-ez but, as it was held over the shorter sprint distance, other contenders came into play.
Alistair, the winner in London in 2009 and 2011 as well as at the 2012 Olympics, did hit the front with less than two kilometres remaining.
But Mola and Murray responded to his push for home and wore him down.
Murray seized control but it was Mola who had the greater finishing strength in the closing metres.
Alistair, who appeared to almost take a wrong turn entering the final straight, said: “I was just going as hard as I could for that last kilometre, trying to put in attack after attack but it wasn’t good enough. They were still faster than me.
“I went as hard as I could. I thought that was the best thing to do but 100... 80 metres to go, I just had nothing left.”
Alistair and Jonny had been well placed in seventh and eighth respectively after the opening swim. Mola at that point had been down in 22nd but the field remained tightly bunched throughout and the Spaniard moved into a challenging position early in the 5km run.
Jonny said: “It was very tough to run. Normally you get down to a group of four or five very quickly but today the whole way round there was a big group. The pace was fast.”
Mola, whose victory was his first in the ITU world series, said: “I tried to do everything possible in every race and I was very lucky to be fighting in the last 5km for the win and then find the strength and energy to get the win.
“I knew Richard had an amazing last kilometre. I tried to stay behind him and when we saw the blue carpet – that is the end – tried to give everything I had left.”
Mola’s winning time was 49 minutes 46 seconds, with the rest of the top six all within 14 seconds.
Britain’s Jodie Stimpson, second in the women’s series standings, had to settle for 11th in her race.
That was won by favourite and series leader Gwen Jorgensen of the United States, with Helen Jenkins the best placed of the British competitors in seventh.