Spain’s Mario Mola and Javier Gomez ran shoulder-to-shoulder for the majority of the 10K run, with Mola gaining a slight edge in the final meters to take the WTS Grand Final victory in Chicago, Ill. Gomez’s stellar WTS season meant that the second-place finish was enough to give him his fifth ITU World Championship title.
Like the women’s race, the men started the day with a little pre-race drama caused by the Chicago weather. The same storm that pushed up the start time for the women eventually caused damage to the main pontoon boat. The snafu caused a fairly major change, with athletes taking on a different course made up of a one-lap swim and an 8.5-lap bike, as well as two different transition areas. The 10K run remained unchanged.
Super swimmer Richard Varga of Slovakia led the men out of the water at 16:16. He earned an eight-second lead over Australia’s Aaron Royle and a long trail of athletes, including pre-race favorites Mario Mola (ESP) and Javier Gomez (ESP).
Once on the bike, a very large front group of 36 athletes—including most of the top contenders—formed and worked their way through the tricky bike course. Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, the United States’ Ben Kanute and a couple of other athletes made a few attempts at building breakaways but nothing stuck. Behind that large font pack, the chasers—led by South Africa’s Richard Murray and Canada’s Andrew Yorke—was working to reduce the 40-second gap to the front.
That group did catch up in the final miles of the bike, making for a massive pack. A small breakaway took place in the last lap, giving Kanute, Switzerland’s Andrea Salvisberg, the Netherlands’ Marco Van Der Stel and Brazil’s Reinaldo Colucci about a 35-second lead over that big group of 55 athletes.
Kanute was able to keep the top spot through the majority of the first lap of the run, but once Gomez and Mola joined him there was not much he could do and he faded to the middle of the race. The battle between the pair of Spaniards up front intensified with every step. The two ran shoulder-to-shoulder for a good chunk of the run, with both Gomez and Mola attempting to break away from each other at different points. Gomez made one last try to gain the advantage right as the two neared Buckingham Fountain and the finishing chute, but Mola ultimately had the stronger legs. He held off Gomez’s attempt and then excelled past him and onto the blue carpet. He used a 28:59 10K to take the win in 1:44:53. Gomez finished second at 1:44:57, with Murray rounding out the top three in 1:45:35.
“I felt great on the run,” Gomez says. “I know Mario is the fastest runner—or one of the fastest runners—and he had a good day today. I had a good day today too and I was happy with my title. I still tried to win the race, but he was just stronger today.”
The second-place finish was more than enough to give Gomez his fifth ITU World Championship. Mola finished second in the standings, with France’s Vincent Luis getting the bronze spot. “It’s good to race against Javier,” Mola says. “I learn so much from him and every time I get to race side by side, it’s a good feeling. I was lucky to get this win today, but he’s five-time world champion, so what else can I say? It’s good to have someone like Javi to follow.”
“I think I will need some time, maybe some years, to understand what I’ve done in the last nine years,” Gomez says of winning his fifth world title. “Winning the world championships is amazing and I’m really proud of my career. I hope it’s not the last one and I hope I’m still competitive in the next year. I’m really enjoying my career in the sport.”
In the race within the race for American men, no U.S. team members finished within the top 8 meaning that all U.S. Olympic team spots on the men’s side are still up for grabs (more on how those will be decided here). Kanute was the top finishing American in 20th.
2015 ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final – Chicago
Chicago, Ill. – Sept. 19, 2015
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:44:53
2. Javier Gomez (ESP) 1:44:57
3. Richard Murray (ESP) 1:45:35
4. Crisanto Grajales (MEX) 1:45:40
5. Vincent Luis (FRA) 1:45:44
6. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 1:45:52
7. Aaron Royle (AUS) 1:46:03
8. Jelle Geens (BEL) 1:46:10
9. Joao Pereira (POR) 1:46:10
10. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1:46:13
Final WTS Rankings
1. Javier Gomez (ESP) 4930
2. Mario Mola (ESP) 4795
3. Vincent Luis (FRA) 4422
4. Richard Murray (RSA) 4317
5. Fernando Alarza (ESP) 3774