TOKYO — Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt delivered a devastating late surge to break clear on a sweltering run and take the gold medal in the men's Olympic triathlon on Monday.
Blummenfelt was part of a huge group of almost 40 that came off the 40km bike leg together but kept driving at the front as it gradually whittled to three, before surging clear in the final km to take Norway's first medal in the sport.
Alex Yee continued Britain's impressive run in the event, as his silver made Britain the most successful nation in the history of the event, which joined the Olympic programme in 2000.
Hayden Wilde of New Zealand also ran strongly to take bronze, while Briton Jonny Brownlee, who won silver in 2016 and bronze in 2012 and was hoping to complete the set in the absence his double champion brother Alistair, finished fifth.
The race began with an unprecedented and embarrassing false start as a media boat sailed in front of the pontoon blocking the route to the water of around a third of the 56-man field.
Jetski riders frantically hauled a dozen swimmers back after they pounded out around 200 meters, oblivious to the alarm horns and whistles.
The field got away cleanly at the second attempt and all the main hopes were in touch coming out of the water.
A group of 10 broke away for the first few laps of the 40km bike leg but the chasing pack eventually reeled them in to form a giant group of 37 by the end of the fifth of eight laps.
All the main contenders were in there and with no hills of note to break things up, the race, as was widely predicted, came down to one big run showdown.
Switzerland's Andrea Salvisberg did manage to escape on his own and built a 16 second lead going into final transition.
That was nothing to the big guns, who came surging past him within five minutes, with Yee in the vanguard and although it was still before 8am locally, the temperature was soaring.
Yee was the British 10,000 meters champion on the track in 2018 and after 23-year-old delivered a crushing run leg to win the last ITU race before the Games in June he looked favourite on Monday.
Pushing the pace in the heat the group slimmed down to three but it was the vastly experienced 27-year-old Blummenfelt who had the strength to break clear and enjoy the run through the line.
Yee was similarly delighted, and said: "It's a bit bizarre really. I'm just a normal guy from south east London. Dreams really do come true.
"I am just over the moon. I was already deep in the well and dug that little bit in my soul. It wasn't enough to catch Kristian but it was enough to get silver."
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis and Michael Perry)