New Zealanders Ryan Sissons and Tony Dodds have finished 17th and 21st respectively at the Rio Olympic Games this morning, in a tough race won by Alistair Brownlee (GBR) from his younger brother Jonathan (GBR) with Henri Schoeman (SA) picking up the bronze medal.

Conditions were hot as expected for the men’s race today and the bike proved the telling discipline with a breakaway deciding the destination of the medals, with both Kiwis missing the break on the bike.

Sissons looked back on a race that was befitting that of an Olympic Games event.

“It was pretty hot, it was always going to be warm and it didn’t disappoint. It was always going to be a hard race, with the high temperatures, hard course and everyone fit and ready to go.

“I raced on the course last year so knew what I was in for, it was hard for sure. I am reasonably happy, I would have liked top ten but that breakaway on the bike got away, I tried to run as hard as I could but didn’t quite have the legs on the run, but it was a solid performance and an improvement on London and I am happy to have put out a solid race.

“It was good to have Doddsy there with me, we were on the bike together the whole way and then working a bit on the run. It is always good to have a team mate there, Doddsy and I have been training together for years so it was great to have him there.”

Dodds was proud of his efforts but disappointed not to have made the front bunch on the bike.

“I knew it was going to be tough, the whole thing was to make the front pack in the swim. I reassessed out of the swim and I knew it was going to be tough but man, up that hill. I expected that though and I thought I was in shape to do it, but it was disappointing to be dropped off that front bunch up the hill.

“I went deep to try and keep with them but I popped and had to regroup and stay with the next group and then keep controlled on the run, I felt disappointed and yet pleased with the effort. I’m not sure what else to say at the moment.”

While previous Olympic races had shown anything could happen in the race, this one was much more clear cut from the start. The Brownlee brothers sat just behind the leaders in the swim, then set a race-defining pace in the first half of the 40km bike leg. Driving up the tough hill on the Rio course, they were part of a lead group of 10 that rode the first 20km more than 90 seconds faster than the fastest athlete on the bike course in last year’s test event. It saw them double their gap on the chase group over the first two laps, stretch it to a minute on the third, and then keep it around 75 seconds for the rest of the bike.

Even though they had established a clean break on the field, the Brownlees didn’t let up on the run. While France’s Vincent Luis initially kept up in the first lap, they broke before it ended and were never headed. Alistair then decided to pull away from Jonathan with plenty of time to go, but slowed down at the finish line to celebrate, leaving the winning margin at just six seconds. The Brownlee brothers join Canada’s Simon Whitfield and New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty as the only men to have won multiple Olympic medals.

Earlier the race commenced with a beach start for the first time in the history of triathlon at the Olympic Games. The initial stretch out to the first marker saw three distinct groups form, before Slovakia’s Richard Varga took his place at the front of the swim at the first marker and the field came together. With Russia’s Igor Polyanksiy and Italy’s Alessandro Fabian just behind him, he started to push the pace and string out the rest of the field in his wake.

The top twenty this morning came from 15 nations, with just Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, Spain and Switzerland having two athletes in the top twenty, emphasizing the global reach and depth of this fast growing sport, one that continues to deliver exciting and world class racing on the ITU World Series circuit and again at the Olympic Games.

The women race at 2am on Sunday morning NZ time, featuring Andrea Hewitt and Nicky Samuels.