With a driving rain and foreboding clouds as background, long shot Belgian Jelle Geens engaged in a hammer–and-tong duel to the finish with a 3-time WTS World Champion Spaniard who has richly deserved his reputation as the fastest runner in the sport. By the time that young Geens crossed the line in 53:49, he had a one second margin over defending WTS Champion Mario Mola of Spain. As he stood past the finish line in the rain with a blissful expression on his face, Geens had his very first WTS win - and had defeated a man who had 14 of them.
It should be noted that after his season opening win at WTS Abu Dhabi, Mola had been in an unprecedented slump which included 29th at WTS Leeds, 26th at WTS Bermuda (one second and one place behind Geens) and 29th at WTS Yokohama. While Mola largely recovered, he was not yet at the absolute peak of his powers.
After a super crowded bike leg in which 30 men created an unholy traffic jam, unable to break apart despite a fairly stout hill which the field had to climb four times over 20 kilometers, it all came down to a run.
Richard Murray of South Africa tried to break away coming out of T2, but Geens stuck close on his heels. Had they looked behind, a crowd of formidable runners including Mola, Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway, Tyler Mislawchuk of Canada, Jonas Schomburg of Germany, Fernando Alarza of Spain and Javier Gomez were ready to run them down.
Then the rains came – and Geens and Mola led the field who dropped away one by one like a triathletic version of Ten Little Indians. First Murray, then Schomburg, and Alarza and Gomez faded with one kilometer to go. Whereupon, with 500 meters left of the 5 kilometer run leg remaining, the Spaniard and the Belgian shook off the last two pursuers – Blummenfelt and Mislawchuk.
So in even more heavily pouring rain, it was down to training partners Mola and Geens to settle matters. And it was Geens, younger and fresher, who prevailed. While Geens and Mola both recorded equal 14:23 run splits, Geens was first to the tape in 53:49 on the sprint distance course.
While Geens was thrilled with his first personal WTS win, he also represented a breakthrough for Belgians. This was the first WTS victory for Belgian males.
Fernando Alarza of Spain finished a modest 6th, but it was enough to give the Spaniard the lead in the WTS Men’s Season standings with 3282 points, 82 points ahead of Vincent Luis of France, who did not compete this day, and 174 ahead of 3rd place Javier Gomez of Spain.
Mola, who is in 7th place, 989 points behind the leader, has a very long odds and a slim chance to notch a come-from-behind 4th WTS World Championship.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
June 29, 2019
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Jelle Geens (BEL) 53:49 S 9:08 T1 1:19 B 28:31 T2 00:29 R 14:23
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 53:50 S 9:08 T1 1:12 B 28:38 T2 00:32 R 14:23
3. Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) 53:53 S 9:03 T1 1:13 B 28:42 T2 00:29 R 14:29
4. Richard Murray (RSA) 53:58 S 9:27 T1 1:14 B 28:15 T2 00:27 R 14:36
5. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) 54:02 S 9:13 T1 1:14 B 28:30 T2 00:29 R 14:38
6. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 54:05 S 9:11 T1 1:15 B 28:34 T2 00:29 R 14:38
7. Matthew Hauser (AUS) 54:09 S 8:55 B 28:49 T2 00:28 R 14:45
8. Bence Bicsák (HUN) 54:16 S 9:00 T1 1:13 B 28:44 T2 14:49
9. Javier Gomez (ESP) 54:24 S 9:02 T1 1:11 B 28:45 T2 00:31 R 14:57
10. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 54:31 S 9:21 T1 1:15 B 28:24 T2 00:30 R 15:03
WTS Men’s Points Standings
1. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 3282
2. Vincent Luis (FRA) 3200
3. Javier Gomez (ESP) 3108
4. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 2905
5. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 2377
6. Bence Bicsák (HUN) 2348
7. Mario Mola (ESP) 2293
8. Alex Yee (GBR) 1993
9. Jonas Schomburg (GER) 1946
10. Dorian Coninx (FRA) 1908