Mola earns first-ever repeat WTS Hamburg win
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Becoming the first man to ever repeat a win at the venue, Spaniard Mario Mola captured his fifth career sprint distance victory at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg.
Surviving and conquering a mass pack that lasted throughout the race, Mola earned his win on the run, where he eased on by his competition on the five-kilometre course. The win not only put Mola in a tied position for most sprint distance victories in a career (with Jonathan Brownlee), but also pushed him to the position of most WTS sprint distance podiums in ITU history with eight.
Mola said of his performance, “It might be, I feel really good today. Since the beginning of the race I think I swam pretty good, was able to stay quite close to the front in order to avoid possible crashes, I just heard that Fernando (Alarza) crashed so I hope he is okay, but then I felt really good on the run so I haven’t seen any times yet but I am very happy with the result.”
“I am very happy when I am able to do a good swim and perform well. It does not always happen, unless you are one of those five or six guys you are going to be in a fight, but today I ended up successfully out of the fight and I am pleased with that.”
For the second year in a row, the silver medal went to Aussie Jacob Birtwhistle, who similar to 2016 put forth a last second effort in the final metres to bypass the competition and get the second place. The bronze medal then went to Kiwi Ryan Sissons, who earned his first WTS podium of his career. With the silver and bronze going to Birtwhistle and Sissons, it became the first time that two elites from Oceania were on the WTS podium together since 2010.
“I don’t know really, but I always seem to have that little something there I guess from my history as a runner before I made that switch to triathlon. I would rather not put myself in that position to not have to chase like that in the last 500 metres, but when it comes to days like today I am glad that it is there,” Birtwhistle said. “I love Hamburg, it is hands down my favourite race on the circuit. The fans are awesome, the crowds are awesome. Thankfully I have managed to have a couple of good races here as well, so really I am happy to be back and I hope it continues.”
As one of the longest-standing races on the WTS circuit, Hamburg is always an electric and thrilling race for fans and athletes. With thousands of people lining the streets to cheer on the elites, the men’s start list was stock full of talent looking to perform in front of the alive crowd.
Diving into the water for the short swim, the field did not have the distance to spread out. While Aussie Matt Hauser exited the waters first in only his second ever WTS race, he was not alone. The busy first transition followed out into the bike course and the pack reached well over 30 men, including all the top names.
Unfortunately the tightly-packed bunch had its effects and a bike crash occurred early in the first lap that forced the number one ranked Fernado Alarza (ESP) to pull out of the race.
The remainder of the bike leg was pretty consistent without much change. The large pack did not separate and as busy as the first transition was, the second was just as occupied.
That meant that the podium would be left to the run.
It was just a matter of moments however that Mola broke ahead and he never slowed down once. His push was enough to get the distance that he needed to head into the finish line without any pressure from the field behind him. He collected the Hamburg gold medal for the second consecutive year in a row.
The silver and bronze medal contenders changed multiple times. While Gomez had a small breakaway that put him into the second-place position, Sissons then caught up to him and for a while it looked like he would take the silver.
All the while, Richard Murray (RSA) who was left towards the back of the bike pack after the swim, came blowing by athlete after athlete and at one point was in fourth place.
It wasn’t until the final 500 metres that out of the woodwork Birtwhistle came blasting by and headed into the finish chute to claim the silver. Sissons followed shortly after to get the bronze, a historic medal for the Kiwi.
“I could not be happier really, this is one of my favourite races and I have always wanted to get on the podium. I just felt good today, I put myself in a good position the whole time and just believed in myself and have had a pretty good season so far, so my confidence is growing. I am just so happy, I can’t believe it,” said Sissons.