Unlike the women's race in which five competitors made a successful break on the bike to set up a strategic battle, the men’s race at Abu Dhabi produced a clot of 36 contenders on the bike entering T2 together to begin what turned out to be a wet 5k run.
And so Spain’s Mario Mola, who won the sprint distance London round of the World Triathlon Series last year with his daunting speed, did it again Saturday at WTS Abu Dhabi. Mola used a frighteningly fast 14:03 5k run to blow up a battle with Vincent Luis of France and Richard Murray of South Africa in the final kilometers and take a 13 seconds margin over Luis and 18 seconds over 3rd place finisher Murray.
Trying to neutralize Luis’s feared finishing sprint, Mola broke away to a 50 meter lead at the 3k mark of the run and never looked back on his way to a 52:32 finish. Thus he leads the 2015 WTS standings with 800 points, hopeful he can improve his 2nd place finish in the yearlong WTS points chase last year.
“I know how fast his sprint is, so I made a move earlier,” said Mola of Luis. He said the fact that no one was able to make a break on the bike allowed him to save his energy for the run. “Because I could stay near on the bike, I had 100 percent on the run today.”
Vincent Luis, who ran a second-best 14:19 run split, said he Mola was just too much to handle today. “I planned to start running with Mario, but when you are running 22 kilometers per hour and he takes off, I cannot stay with him,” said Luis. “I am happy with 2nd today.”
Murray said his effort to stay with Mola and Luis at the start of the run left him without enough energy to contend down the stretch. “I went out too fast at the start of the run,” said the South African.
Joao Silva of Portugal outlasted Olympic silver medalist Javier Gomez and Olympic bronze medalist Jonathan Brownlee in a duel for 4th place. Silva finished in 53:02 and Brownlee one second later. Gomez, the 2014 WTS World Champion, was coming off a disappointing performance at the Half Ironman-distance Challenge Dubai last week and simply did not have his mid-season form as he drifted back to 6th place with a 14:43 5k split.
Jarrod Shoemaker was top American, finishing in 26th place in a time of 54:05. Alan Webb finished 57th in 57:20.
Abu Dhabi World Triathlon Series
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
March 7, 2015
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Mario Mola (ESP) 52:32
2. Vincent Luis (FRA) 52:45
3. Richard Murray (RSA) 52:50
4. Joao Silva (POR) 53:02
5. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 53:03
6. Javier Gomez (ESP) 53:12
7. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 53:17
8. Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) 53:18
9. Vicente Hernandez (ESP) 53:20
10. Sven Riederer (SUI) 53:28
26. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 54:05
57. Alan Webb (USA) 57:20