Mario Mola validated his race number 1 with his second straight major win at the Mooloolaba World Cup sprint distance.
Mola was pushed hard by countryman Vicente Hernandez, but just as in Abu Dhabi a week ago, Mola’s top run speed prevailed at the finish. His race-best 14:44 5k run brought him to the finish in 52:55, 5 seconds ahead of Hernandez.
Joao Pereira of Portugal was the best of the rest, taking the final spot on the podium 12 seconds later.
Mola escaped a near disaster midway on the bike leg when at 20k he ran into Alexis Lepage of Canada who crashed ahead of him. Mola quickly picked himself up and charged back in sight of the lead pack.
“I tried to be in the best position possible for the whole bike,” Mola told ITU Media. “I think at that point I was 4th or 5th but the guy just in front of me crashed and I just couldn’t stop. Luckily when these things happen and you are in front you can still draft from the guys behind. If I had been further back in the pack I would have struggled to get back in the race.”
Despite the shuffling caused by the crash, a lead pack of 50 hit T2 together. At the end of the first lap of the run, Mola, Hernandez, Joao Pereira of Portugal and Ron Darmon of Israel pushed to the front at the end of lap one. The group stuck together for the next lap before Mola jetted away and claimed his third straight race – a streak that began with his victory at the Grand Final in Chicago last year and continued at WTS Abu Dhabi last week.
After a 31 seconds silence before the start to honor the late Laurent Vidal, Mola said the race win had extra meaning. “It was a really special one,” said Mola. “I like to honor Laurent Vidal and this win is for him.”
Mooloolaba World Cup
March 12, 2016
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Mario Mola (ESP) 52:55
2. Vicente Hernandez (ESP) 53:00
3. Joao Pereira (POR) 53:12
4. Rostyslav Pevtsov (AZE) 53:19
5. Gregor Bucholz (GER) 53:21
6. Gonzalo Raul Tellechea (ARG) 53:23
7. Ron Darmon (ISR) 53:25
8. Steffen Justus (GER) 53:28
9. Andreas Schilling (DEN) 53:29
10. Manoel Messias (BRA) 53:30