Conditions were wet, slippy and cold for the WTS final in Rotterdam, the first time the Dutch city had featured on the WTS calendar.
WTS leader Spaniard Mario Mola was the man to beat, and had to finish in the top 5 to defend his 2016 title – on paper a straightforward task but with difficult conditions, a strong field and a twisty bike course, it was important that he stayed in touch with any breaks that would take place.
As predicted Richard Varga from Slovakia led the swim, with Britain’s Jonny Brownlee exiting 8 secs down and Mola exiting 26secs down, one of his best swims of the season.
The early lead bike group of 15 included Brownlee, the newly crowned 70.3 World Champ Javier Gomez, Luis, Varga, Ben Kanute from USA, and Aaron Royle from Australia, with Mola, Fernando Alarza (ESP) and Richard Murray (RSA) all in the first chase pack just 20 seconds back.
By the end of lap one this gap had reduced to 15secs and despite efforts by Brownlee and Kanute to make a break the two groups merged just after two laps in.
Brownlee set out on the run meaning business with Kristian Blummenfelt from Norway, and for a short time they had a slight advantage. However they were soon caught by Gomez and Luis with Mola in 5th – the position that he needed to maintain if he was to retain the title.