By Mitch Phillips
LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Javier Gomez won his third triathlon world title when he outsprinted defending champion Jonathan Brownlee in a gripping finish to the series finale in sodden London on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Spaniard, third in the standings entering the final race, took full advantage of an ankle injury that foiled world champion Alistair Brownlee's hopes of a repeat triumph on the same course that he lifted the Olympic gold 13 months ago.
However, he still had to deal with younger brother Jonathan, the man he edged for Olympic silver last year and an opponent he knows inside out after seasons of fighting it out for the podium slots.
He did so, but only after a gripping duel over the final 10km run, which ended with Gomez pipping the home favourite on the line.
His winning time of one hour 48.16 minutes, was a second ahead of Brownlee, with another Spaniard Mario Mola finishing third in 1:49.10 to also finish third in the overall standings.
"It was a great race, I hid behind Jonathan and got away and now I'm a three-time world champion," said Gomez, who also triumphed in 2010 and 2008 and was runner-up last year.
"Jonathan was running very fast but it was the last race of the year and I had to give it my all. Today it was a bit tactical in the run and luckily I had a bit more in that last 200 metres."
Alistair Brownlee led the standings coming into the race and was first off the bike.
However, an ankle injury that has dogged him all season was clearly giving him trouble and his grimmacing face as he ran through transition showed all was not well and he immediately dropped to the back of the leading pack of 13 men.
Ignoring the favourite's troubles, Jonathan and Gomez tore clear at the start of the run.
Before the race Alastair had said he felt the rain would suit the British brothers, who train on the hills of Yorkshire and developed their running endurance with gruelling seasons of cross-country.
"It's that we like the rain, but others like it less," he said.
Gomez, however, perhaps convincing himself it was still summer by running in sunglasses, looked comfortable throughout.
Showing all his experience he sat on Jonathan's shoulder until the final three km, when the two men, by then well clear, took turns to test each other with a series of surges.
Roared on by a huge crowd in Hyde Park, Brownlee made his final move 200 metres out but Gomez, a remarkable all-round talent who won the "Xterra" off-road world triathlon title last year, found yet another gear to hit back and win.
"I'm absolutely gutted - I really wanted to be world champion again," said Jonathan Brownlee.
"When it's so close you ask yourself what you could have done differently but I don't really think there was anything. It was a good race and I gave it my all."
Alistair had tapped his head in a "think" gesture each time he passed his brother on the out and back, four-lap course and even came to a full stop to roar encouragement as Jonathan raced the final few hundred metres.
"He was just telling me to use my brain and think about it a bit," Jonathan said. "I have a tendency to get carried away and just go off.
"I think I used my head as well as I could but Javier was just too good today."
Alistair Brownlee, after briefly moving back up to fifth, was eventually forced to jog the final few km and came home 52nd.
Britain's Non Stanford won the women's event on Saturday after overcoming a 15 second penalty for not putting her wetsuit in her changing box. (Editing by Justin Palmer)