Richard Murray (RSA) put together a remarkable day under tough and chilly conditions to secure his second ever World Triathlon Series win on Sunday in Edmonton.
“Javi was hanging on the whole time and I really had to give it everything,” Murray said. “I had some issues at the start of the day. I broke my swim cap, I had to give it everything in the end. My swim was much better than last year, and I managed to push hard on the bike.”
Driving to become the first athlete to win five World Championships, Javier Gomez Noya (ESP) finished second to retain the top Columbia Threadneedle Rankings spot in the last WTS event ahead of the Grand Final. Compatriot Mario Mola, who sits second in the rankings, took third, which makes him just 225 points behind Gomez just a week ahead of the World Championships.
“Today was a very different race,” Gomez said. “I tried to keep going, but it wasn’t very fast, I couldn’t feel my feet for the first two run laps. I tried to hang on with Richard. Maybe I wasn’t confident enough to beat him (Murray) in the end, but after racing so much, it’s a good result. It’s always good to be ahead of Mario and Vincent but it will all come down to the Grand Final and that’s what I’m focused on.”
The men’s race saw important changes in the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings, as Vincent Luis (FRA) moved into third over Spaniard Fernando Alarza. Luis’ fourth place finish makes him just 277 points behind leader Gomez. Likewise, Murray’s win makes him fourth in the Rankings with just 530 points separating the top four men, mean if any of those men could be named World Champion on September 19.
The quick 750 metre one-lap swim gave no individual the time to draw out a large lead, with Raoul Shaw (FRA) and Eric Lagerstrom (USA) leading the men out of the water and into T1. With no time to create a gap, a group of just over 20 men formed together to make up the lead pack on the four-lap 20km bike.
However, their efforts weren’t enough to keep the chase, which included Mola, from bridging up as more than 40 men came together at the end of the third bike lap.
Off the bike, Murray and his South African teammate Wian Sullwald gunned to the front of the pack early on the first of three run laps. But by the end of that lap, Murray had pulled away with Gomez, who won World Triathlon Stockholm two weeks ago followed by a bronze at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships last weekend, showed his tenacity and went with him.
Behind them, Royle ran past Sullwald in an effort to repeat his World Triathlon Stockholm prodium. But it wasn’t to be as Mola mustered up the guts to overtake the Australian on the second lap.
While Gomez stayed on Murray’s hip throughout the run, the South African was just too strong on Sunday as he lengthened his stride and pulled far enough away on the last lap to keep the reigning World Champ at a great enough distance to win the race.
Gomez held the pace to keep himself in second, while Mola crossed over with the third fastest race of the day in bronze medal position.
“It’s been the toughest hour of my life,” Mola said. “I kept thinking it wasn’t going to end. It was good for me with third. It was important for me to get a good result here to be able to fight for the World Championship in Chicago. Javi isn’t going to make it easy for me.”