The two-time winner of the race finished a distant 44th yesterday and immediately told host broadcaster the BBC that he ‘might retire’ after such a chastening loss.
However, moments later the 31-year-old had climbed down from that headline-grabbing position to say that he had a big decision to make in the coming days with the Tokyo Olympics and the chance to extend his historic streak of gold-medal winning performances just 14 months away.
“I’ll decide what’s next tomorrow,” said the London and Rio Olympic triathlon champion. “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions now, it’s easy to say something straight after a bad result that you might regret.
“We’ll sleep on it tonight. I’ve got to decide over the next few days.”
In Brownlee’s defence, the triathlon has not been his main focus since his second Olympic title in 2016. He has competed in half-ironman triathlons and reduced his schedule, and even a fourth European title won last weekend came over a shorter distance.
However, the manner of how far he was left trailing in the running leg clearly shocked him and prompted his threat to quit the sport moments after he was cheered to the finish line in Millennium Square.
It was also a sobering day for Jonny Brownlee. He was 35h to Alistair’s 44th-place finish, but to say the two of them were first and second as recently as 2017 in their home race, it was a startling result. Jonny, worryingly admitted he had no idea what had gone wrong and would have to go back to the drawing board.
British women fared much better in the women’s elite race earlier in the day with Leeds-based Georgia Taylor-Brown claiming her first World Series victory ahead of Wetherby’s Jessica Learmonth in third.