Chris McCormack will not be writing off Alistair Brownlee after that fourth on his return to action in Oceanside, but he does believe a change in strategy would help the two-time Olympic Champion in St George next month.
The 33-year-old Yorkshireman led until the closing stages of an epic race before being caught and passed by eventual winner Jackson Laundry. Then Lionel Sanders and Rudy Von Berg also scorched past as Brownlee missed out on a podium spot.
Two-time Kona king McCormack was pleased with Brownlee’s performance, but believes his aggressive style of racing might not be the best way to win an IRONMAN World Championship on May 7.
Brownlee at Oceanside
He told the MX Endurance Podcast: “He blew some cobwebs out, Alistair hasn’t raced for a long period of time. I thought he was great – I’ve always wondered about his nutrition, he seemed to fall apart nutritionally, he was a mile from home.
“I find Alistair – and there’s no illusions, I’m a huge fan right, he’s entertained me for years and he’s earned my fandom – I think he’s amazing to watch. I find him still relatively immature in the long-course racing.
“He applies that short-course punch to his racing, he’s not as patient as I think he should be. That’s just an outsider’s perspective, I think he’s always forcing the pace – he’s a front runner.”
McCormack said despite the disappointment in many quarters that Brownlee did not produce a winning return to action, an element of realism is required in the aftermath.
“That’s the fastest they’ve ever gone in California. Remember Jan Frodeno’s done that course, people need to come back to that simple fact, that’s the course record that they just did.
Patience can pay off
The way Brownlee ran his race in California was nothing new to McCormack, he’s seen it before. The Aussie believes dialling it back just a little will boost his chances in Utah.
“I just think Ali, reminds me a bit of 70.3 Worlds in South Africa (2018) – bang he applies the pace, straight past. He did it in Nice (2019) – bang, he applies the pace. He’s a very very aggressive racer over the distance and it’s a much longer day and you burn up a lot more, and I think Ironman even more so. I just think it doesn’t need to be that, I think he’s getting caught out a little bit on that too much revs.
“I think he’s walked away a little bit wounded, but I think he can only draw positives from that and he’s got a month to build. 70.3 to Ironman’s a completely different race.”
Now, as he looks ahead to that mouthwatering showdown in St George, Macca has a message for the man he respects so much.
A message for Brownlee
“If you watch any of Alistair Brownlee’s racing as a World Cup athlete, any of his success stories, he’s a front runner – he likes to dictate terms. That’s a very difficult way to race Ironman, it’s extremely difficult.
“I still think Alistair Brownlee’s going to be very very dangerous in St George. I just hope if you’re listening Al, just a little bit more patience.
“You don’t need to win this race until the last 10 metres, any race. No-one cares who led the most, no-one cares about who was on the front the most. It’s about winning across the line.”