Jonny Brownlee failed to earn early Olympic selection as Javier Gomez won a third successive World Triathlon Series title at the Grand Final in Chicago.
Briton Brownlee, 25, was back in action to finish 12th on Saturday after being sidelined in June with a stress fracture in his left leg.
Spain's Gomez was second behind Mario Mola and is the first male triathlete to win a quintet of world titles.
"I am not normally happy with 12th," Brownlee Tweeted.
"But it was an achievement to be here. 10km is a long way off 4 weeks of running."
Gomez finished four seconds behind Mola, who won in one hour 44 minutes and 53 seconds.
He said compatriot Mola was just too strong for him but was happy with a podium finish and the overall title.
Gomez added: "I think it is great. I can't understand it yet, I sometimes can't comprehend doing something like that in the last few years. It is just amazing."
Brownlee had been among the leaders at the end of his 1.5km swim but faded as the contest went on and finished in 1:46:19.
A top-three place would have allowed Olympic bronze medallist Brownlee to secure a place at Rio 2016.