Abu Dhabi, Mar 5, 2016: In the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Series season opener, Spain’s Mario Mola and Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson were crowned the first World Triathlon Series race champions after winning in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, March 5th. Despite serving a ten-second time penalty, Mola was able to seize his back-to-back Abu Dhabi title, while Stimpson claimed her first WTS victory since the 2014 season.
Spain’s Mario Mola started off the new World Triathlon Series season exactly where he finished, on top of the podium, as he shook off a slow swim and a penalty to win the opening race of the 2016 WTS season.
Mola exited the swim field near the end and then gained a penalty in T1 for equipment outside the box. But after a technical 40km bike brought the field together, he blasted out of T2 and hit the front in the first lap.
After extending a 10-second lead over a chase group that included Richard Murray, Joao Silva and Fernando Alarza, Mola made a tactical decision to take his penalty at the halfway mark of the run. That set him back on course a few metres behind that trio, but he quickly caught their heels. It then took him less than a kilometre to find his way to the front, and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the race.
While at stages it looked like Murray was in catching distance, Mola simply surged away to collect his second WTS win in Abu Dhabi, and his second win in a row after taking out the 2015 Grand Final in Chicago. Mola’s winning time was 1hour 46minutes and 39seconds, finishing ahead of training partner Murray and Portugal’s Joao Silva.
“Things couldn’t have got much harder today, it’s very hot outside, of course it’s hot for everyone, but it’s makes it very tough,” Mola said. “I didn’t swim great, but I was able to get to the front on the bike and then when they called me for the penalty, I imagined it was going to be a bad day…but when I had those 10, 15 seconds, I thought, that is the time to stop and get back into the pack again. Richard was amazing today, as was Joao and Fernando, but I felt great, and I’m happy to get the win here.”
With a seventh-place finish, Ryan Sissons fulfilled his National Federation’s requirements to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Claiming her first WTS victory since 2014, Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson finally earned her way back to the top of the podium by winning the first race of the season at the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi.
After pushing through a long swim, a tough bike and an even tougher run, Stimpson broke away from a small four-man pack in the final lap of the race to reclaim her rights to a WTS gold medal. Showcasing an amazing come-from-behind performance, Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle earned the silver medal, while Stimpson’s British compatriot Helen Jenkins took the bronze.
“This winter I could not say that it could have gone any better. My training group has been highly motivated because non of us have made our Olympic spots yet. Me and Helen Jenkins, we are great rivals, she is just a fantastic athlete and I have so much respect for her. As soon as I crossed the line I went to her and thought we could not make it any harder for them really, but we are both in the same boat and it will be whoever has the best race in Gold Coast. It will be the best woman who wins and if Helen beats me in Gold Coast, she deserves to go,” said Stimpson on her win and her road to still qualify for the Rio Olympic Games this summer. —- ITU
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