Season update with defending world champion Mario Mola

Mario Mola might have been taken by surprise at WTS Edmonton, but he was still able to take the day and maintain his grip on the World Triathlon Series lead.

| August 2, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

When Jake Birtwhistle went by him like he was parked, defending world champion Mario Mola didn't try to go with him. Call it experience, or maybe just a keen sense of what his body can do, but Mola realized that if he tried to run as fast as the young Australian was going, he would blow up.

"I didn’t think he could run that fast for the last lap – if he could there was nothing I could do," Mola said after Saturday's World Triathlon Series event in Edmonton, Canada. "I wanted to believe that he thought it was two laps … he was flying. I knew that Rich (Richard Murray), Javier (Gomez) and Jonathan (Brownlee) were in the bunch 50 m before and when I saw him overtaking me at a whole different speed I thought 'Today he might be quicker, and that’s just the way its going to be.'”

As they started the third and final lap Birtwhistle realized he had one more lap to run and jumped over a barrier to get back on course. It was then that Mola knew he still had a chance to take his fourth WTS win of the 2017 season.

"When I saw him jump from the finish line area to the one more lap section I thought I had to play my cards. I was running well and was feeling good. If I wanted to win I had to play my cards at that point, so that/s what I did. When I had a decent gap at the top of the hill, I knew how he finished in Hamburg and knew that I couldn’t give up – I kept pushing to the end."

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Next up for Mola will be another race in Canada - the inaugural WTS race in Montreal, which hosted a World Cup event last year. Last year Montreal was a sprint race, this year the WTS event will be a standard-distance event.

"I’m excited to race (in Montreal)," Mola said. "I don’t see Olympic or sprint suiting me one way or the other. Of course, 750 m on the swim allows the swimmers to put less distance, but at the end of the day that distance is made up in the first lap and gaps stay the same. Then you have 40 km to catch up or to go away. I’m excited about racing Montreal, I’ve never been there. Javier (Gomez), Fernando (Alonso) – I expect them to fight for the top position."

Last year the world title came down to the final race, with Mola needing a top-four finish to take the title if Jonathan Brownlee could take the Grand Final. In the end Brownlee collapsed a few hundred meters from the finish line and would need to be carried over in the runner-up position by his brother Alistair. That meant Mola's fifth place finish was enough to earn him the world title. This year he appears to be in a much better position in terms of the world championship race, but Mola isn't taking anything for granted.

"It’s good to be in the position I am now. I am happy with where I am. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that I would have four wins, I would have signed that right away. I can’t control what the rest of the others do. I haven’t looked at the numbers. We’ll look after (WTS) Stockholm and we’ll see and do the math like we did in Cozumel last year."