Mario Mola of Spain, the 2016 WTS World Champion, topped fellow Spaniard Fernando Alarza by 8 seconds and 3rd place Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt by 11 seconds to repeat as the winner of WTS Yokohama.
In pouring rain which led to 10 DNFs and the crash of top contender Jonathan Brownlee late in the bike leg, Mola navigated best through the dangers and finished with the second-fastest 30:36 run.
“It has been a very good day for me,” Mola told ITU media. “On the bike we had to be careful. We saw at the end I think it was Jonny who had a crash with so many others. But with this day you never know what is going to happen. Today luckily it worked well for me so I am very pleased.”
Mola survived a 41st-fastest swim that left him 27 seconds behind swim leader Jonathan Brownlee. After a 4th-best 57:36 bike split, Mola caught on the back of a large front pack at T2. By the end of the first of 4 laps of the run, Mola zoomed past early run leaders Henri Schoeman of South Africa, Gabor Faldum of Hungary and Blummenfelt and never looked back.
Mola was humble about his good fortune: “I have said this before with triathlon, it doesn’t matter how fit or how good you think you are, races put you in a place where sometimes you are happy and sometimes you are disappointed. But I was confident that I made the work during the winter, I kept doing the same work and when the result comes around you have to be pleased.”
Alarza said he was happy to be part of Spain’s 1-2 finish. “From the start around the first buoy I was a fighter,” he told ITU media. Alarza swam a 35th -best 18:42 split. “On my bike I was freezing, this water was not great for me, my feet were freezing but then I warmed up. I lost maybe 20 or 30 seconds in the second transition.” Alarza ran 10 seconds quicker than Mola, but lost 13 seconds to Mola in the bike-to-run transition, which provided Mola his margin of victory. “I am happy for Mario, happy for me and happy for the Spanish team,” Alarza said.
After a closely bunched swim that left over 50 men within 40 seconds of swim leader Brownlee, about 30 men led the pack on the bike, including Javier Gomez, Brownlee and, eventually, Mola.
As the leaders worked well together, the chasers led by Jake Birtwhistle fell 2 minutes behind by T2.
As the pack approached T2, top contender Brownlee crashed in the wet, picked up his bike and ran it into T2. Out of contention for the win, Brownlee soldiered on to a 32:34 run to earn an honorable 42nd place finish.
After Mola seized the lead, Schoeman, Alarza and Blummenfelt battled for the remaining spots on the podium. The three men exchanged the lead of their group until Alarza prevailed for the silver with a race-best 30:26 run. Schoeman established a short lead for the final spot on the podium until Blummenfelt regrouped and sprinted ahead on the blue carpet to finish with a 30:44 run, 3 seconds behind Alarza and 3 seconds ahead of Schoeman, who took 4th after a 30:56 run.
Javier Gomez, the 5-time ITU World Champion who missed the Rio Olympics with an injury and who opened 2017 with a win at WTS Abu Dhabi, had an off day. Gomez finished with a 31:58 run to finish 9th.
May 13, 2017
S 1.5k / B 40k / R10k
1. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:48:15
2. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 1:48:23
3. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) 1:48:26
4. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 1:48:29
5. Andreas Schilling (DEN) 1:49:14
6. Rostislav Pevtsov (AZE) 1:49:25
7. Adrien Brifford (SUI) 1:49:26
8. Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) 1:49:34
9. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:49:40
10. Gabor Faldum (HUN) 1:49:43
20. Matthew McElroy (USA) 1:50:33
27. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) 1:51:21
35. Gregory Billington (USA) 1:52:50