The men left it all down to the finish chute in a flurry of activity that saw Mario Mola (ESP) return to the top of the Columbia Threadneedle Rankings as he won the Wasser Hamburg World Triathlon. Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) burst onto the scene with his first World Triathlon Series medal with silver, while Mola’s compatriot Fernando Alarza took home bronze.
Adding to the excitement Birtwhistle let up ever so slightly in his two final steps thinking he has secured his first World Triathlon Series when Fernando Alarza came flying up his left side. The men crossed so closely together, Technical Officials had to review the photo finish to determine Birthwhistle was indeed the silver medal winner. Although Richard Murray crossed over second, he was later disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Mola said of his victory, “I am very happy with the race, especially since I have had the inconsistencies through the three sports, that is something that I have been working on, sometimes you get the result that you have been aiming for and sometimes you don’t, but today it went very good so I am happy with that.”
Commenting on his close finish, Birtwhistle said, “I thought I did (cross over before Alarza), that is why I did a bit of a first bump at the finish line, but it didn’t take long for me to start second guessing myself, but I guess I was just at the line beforehand. I am really happy with the race today, I planned to come here and have a great race and I was not going to accept anything else. So I am happy to even just make it onto the podium it a pretty good achievement I think.”
The short 750 metre swim left no chance for any real standout performances in the water. Instead, several swimmers exited in a line led by Tommy Zaferes (USA) and Henri Schoeman (RSA).
The close swim meant the first transition was a congested zone. A pack that tallied 30 men headed out for the six-lap course and stuck together for the entirety of the bike. While a few breakaway attempts were seen from the likes of Ben Kanute (USA) and Andreas Schilling (DEN), they couldn’t make anything stick. Entering onto the bell lap, with the rain starting to come down, the men headed towards the second transition zone again as a mass pack.
It was Mola and Murray who pushed ahead of the crowd and stepped out together for the two-lap run. In no time, the training teammates put some space between them and the field as they forged ahead. By the start of the second lap, the two men had earned a lead of 17 seconds and it was looking as if the winner would be determined by a sprint finish.
However, due to putting his swim gear in the wrong box during the first transition, Murray was given a 10-second penalty. Murray served the time right before the finish line, which meant that the road was clear for Mola to step in and take the gold medal.
As Murray left the penalty box, he gestured to the Technical Officials, which was determined unsportsmanlike and led to his eventual disqualification.
Running for third place then was an early group of six men that included Birtwhistle, Alarza, Ryan Bailie (AUS), Joao Pereira (POR), Marten Van Riel (BEL) and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN).
Heading into the final kilometres of the race, it was Birtwhistle who edged ahead for the bronze. A final push from Alarza however put doubts in the mind of Birtwhistle, who actually crossed the line first. It was a photo finish review that guaranteed the medal for Birtwhistle.
Results: 2016 ITU World Triathlon Hamburg : Elite Men
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