Spaniard Mario Mola has earned his third WTS victory this season with a win at the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama in Japan. While silver went to Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales and bronze to Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, both of whom graced the WTS podium for the very first time.
Their medals also meant that Mexico and Norway were represented on a World Triathlon Series podium for the first time in history.
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After surviving the masses during the swim and bike legs that saw more than 60 men enter the second transition together, Mola executed on his run right out of the T2 gate and was able to stride his way into his third WTS victory of the season.
Mola said: “I am very happy with how things went today. I think I managed to do a good swim. I was able to stay among the front of the pack; the British guys did a great job in front so it made it a bit easier to stay there. And then on the run I felt great, so I could not be happier.”
“I am very pleased with how things are going. I know it is a long time until Rio, but my goal at the beginning of the season was to keep working and keeping racing as I did in the past, which has worked so why change what normally works. So now I will keep working in the next couple of months toward the Olympics, but of course with Javi racing it is going to be a different game.”
Also capitalizing on the run was Grajales who captured the silver medal, when he overtook Blummenfelt in the final kilometres of the course to advance into second place, while Blummenfelt was left to finish off the day with an impressive third.
“I am very happy. It is my first podium in the WTS, so I am very happy for me, for my coach, for my family and my country. It was a hard course, but I just am happy. It was an amazing race, but I am waiting for Rio so now I will go home for two weeks to relax and train for the Olympic Games,” Grajales said.
Adam Bowden was the best of the British squad, finishing in 12th place in a time of 01:47:24, just under a minute behind Mola.
In the swim the men stuck together with no obvious leader. USA’s Ben Kanute and Henri Schoeman (RSA) managing to exit the choppy waters in the lead, but they were followed by the masses, which created a busy first transition.
It was a similar scene on the bike leg with a pack of 50 contenders heading into T2 at the same time.
However, it was Mola who was able to avoid executed a swift and quick exit lead lead out onto the run. He immediately took control out front, setting the pace. But Blummenfelt would not let Mola escape alone, as the Norwegian powerhouse surprised by running right on Mola’s heels.
Halfway through the run, Mola was able to step it up a gear and eventually drop Blummenfelt, finishing the race with a comfortable lead that brought him into the finish chute first.
A group of men that included Grajales, Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), Fernando Alarza (ESP), Pierre Le Corre (FRA) and Schoeman grouped together right off the bat and ran together chasing Mola and Blummenfelt. Not until the final kilometres did Grajales seize the opportunity to get away from the others and chase down Blummenfelt.
In a final surge, Grajales pushed past Blummenfelt to capture the silver and his first WTS podium. Blummenfelt was then left to finish his day also earning a medal with the bronze.
“I have been training hard the last couple of weeks so I thought I had a good chance on the run, I have been in good running shape and I have had some good sessions. But I am a bit surprised that I was able to get a medal after there was like 40 guys getting off the bike together. Running felt quite easy in the beginning, so I thought I would just try to hang on for a good seven or eight kilometres and see what could happen, but suddenly I hit a wall and just had to survive for the last five kilometres.”