Alistair and Jonny Brownlee will go into Sunday’s World Series triathlon in their home town of Leeds looking for their first wins of the season with the Rio Olympics less than two months away.
Jonny finished third on the Gold Coast and second in Cape Town in April, while Alistair finished back in 36th on the Gold Coast as he hunts the form that made him Olympic champion in 2012.
With fellow Leeds residents Non Stanford and Vicky Holland and training partner Gordon Benson, five of the six GB athletes for Rio will be in action.
Britain’s round of the series, which has been held in Hyde Park since 2009, has moved to Leeds for the first time and it promises to be an emotional afternoon for the Brownlees, who are assured of passionate support around the city’s streets.
“Starting triathlon a long time ago you never thought you’d race on the streets of Leeds with big crowds. I’m very, very proud,” said 28-year-old Alistair.
Younger brother Jonny, who won bronze in London in 2012, added: “It is a bit strange and a bit daunting as well. If we weren’t training here it might not have happened.
“You get called a role model and the next thing, there’s an event here because of you. At some point, when I’ve retired I’ll step back and think about it and go, ‘Wow’.”
After a two-lap swim in Roundhay Park, the 40km bike leg winds through the suburbs where they have cycled and run for years, before finishing with a four-lap run that ends in Millennium Square.
With the year’s dominant athlete Mario Mola missing from the men’s race and reigning world champion Javier Gomez making his 2016 World Series debut, the opportunity is there for the brothers to get their own world-title bids back on track.
Gomez and the two Brownlees have not all raced each other since the Grand Final in Edmonton two years ago, while Stanford and Holland will be taking on the woman likely to go to Rio as favourite for gold, USA’s Gwen Jorgensen.
The reigning world champion has raced sparingly this summer, but with only two more World Series events before the Olympics the world’s best are looking to use the first European leg of nine-race series to fine-tune their preparations.
For Jodie Stimpson – overlooked for Olympic selection for the second successive Games this week despite winning in Abu Dhabi and taking second in Cape Town this season – the focus is entirely on the world title.
Currently second in the standings, she knows another strong performance this weekend could not only move her ahead of current leader Flora Duffy but leave her in pole position as her rivals turn their focus to Rio.
The third member of the women’s team for Rio, Welshwoman Helen Jenkins, is not racing in Leeds.