Propelled by a race-best 14:09 split for the final 5k run, Mario Mola of Spain ran away from Richard Murray of South Africa to defend his 2016 title and earn the victory at WTS Gold Coast.
After crowded lead packs in the swim and bike legs, the race came down to a battle on the run between Mola, fellow Spaniards Fernando Alarza and Javier Gomez, and training partner Richard Murray of South Africa.
After Gomez and Alarza fell back, Mola pulled away from Murray in the final meters to cross the line in 52:35 with a 4 seconds margin on Murray (14:14 run), 9 seconds on 3rd place Alarza (14:20 run) and 16 seconds on Gomez, who finished 4th after a 14:24 run.
“It was a very tough race as usual, but with the sprint, Richard, Fernando and Javi were all on fire,” Mola told ITU Media. “I had to give 100 percent today to get this win.”
Mola, who finished 8th at WTS Abu Dhabi last month, well behind his countryman Gomez who took the victory, paid tribute to the talents of his rivals and the depth of the WTS competition:
“Every race is a new opportunity and a different opportunity to give our best and to try our best,” said Mola. “In Abu Dhabi I do not think I was less fit or more than I was today but in this racing these guys are very good and if you don’t have your best day you go from first to eighth to twentieth. That is racing.”
Murray said he left everything in his drive for the win. “I think it is almost compared to [the Olympic triathlon in] Rio,” Murray told ITU Media. “I gave everything I could and Mario was like a surging machine out there. I responded as much as I could and then I was on the rivet for maybe the last u-turn all the way back near transition. I stayed with him a few times but I did all I could.”
Henri Schoeman led the men out of the swim, and then led a group of five for a short break on the bike leg including Gomez, Ben Kanute of the U.S., and Trent Thorpe and Taylor Reid of New Zealand. By the second 5-kilometer lap, the chase group caught the breakaway and more than 20 men formed a pack. Tony Dodds of New Zealand tried a break but failed to hold it. Then Ryan Fisher of Australia eked out a 16-second solo break heading into T2.
Once on the run, heavy hitter runners took charge as Gomez, Murray, Alarza, Jake Birtwhistle of Australia and Mola broke out front. Birtwhistle, who showed his running talent last month at the Super League Triathlon on Hamilton Island, was the first to surrender as he fell off the back at the 3km mark. Soon thereafter, Murray and Mola accelerated away from Alarza and Gomez.
After his win at Abu Dhabi, Gomez’s 4th place finish at Gold Coast was enough to maintain his WTS points lead. Birtwhistle’s 5th place qualified him for the Australian team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games which will be held on the Gold Coast a year from now.
WTS Gold Coast
Gold Coast, Australia
April 8, 2017
S 750m / B 20k / R 5k
1. Mario Mola (ESP) 52:35
2. Richard Murray (RSA) 52:39
3. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 52:44
4. Javier Gomez (ESP) 52:51
5. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) 53:03
6. Luke Willian (AUS) 53:08
7. Ryan Sissons (AUS) 53:08
8. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 53:11
9. Wian Sullwald (RSA) 53:11
10. Shachar Sagiv (ISR) 53:14
11. Kevin McDowell (USA) 53:17