PREVIEW: Mario Mola goes for the world title hat-trick in Gold Coast
Will anybody be able to keep pace and stop Mola's streak of wins?
Spain’s Mario Mola has had a remarkable 2018 season. Heading into the World Triathlon Series (WTS) Grand Final this weekend, Mola has won four of the last five WTS races. If he finishes anywhere in the top-14 Sunday, he’ll win his third straight world title. A feat only ever accomplished by Javier Gomez (2013, 2014 & 2015).
Related: Ten things you need to know for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and How to watch the WTS Grand Final this weekend
Though Mola doesn’t need to win Sunday’s race, a victory would cement an incredible season for the Spaniard. In order to take the win, he’ll have to beat hometown favourite Jacob Birtwhistle. The Aussie this season has proven to be a dangerous runner. Birtwhistle’s explosive speed in the closing kilometres is a weapon few can overlook. Entering this weekend in the second position, the Australian is one of the few competitors who has the speed to match Mola. In the title race, Birthwhistle needs to finish in the top six in order to have a chance.
At the WTS Grand Final in Rotterdam last year, France’s Vincent Luis took the win. This season he’s continued his run of strong results and enters the weekend in third. Still with a mathematical chance of winning the world title, the Frenchman is a very real threat to Mola.
There’s also the South African duo of Richard Murray and Henri Schoeman. This 2018 season has seen the highs and lows for both Murray and Schoeman. Early in the season, Murray struggled to find consistency until his win at WTS Leeds. The victory was the first by a South African at a WTS Olympic race. Schoeman on the other hand, started the season strong with his win in the Commonwealth Games. Since then, he’s struggled to get results. In Montreal, after two months off from racing, he returned to form with a strong sixth-place finish.
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt and Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk are also names to be considered for the podium in Australia. This year the Norwegian has finished second to Mola in the last two races, and will once again be a threat. Mislawchuk has put together a strong 2018 campaign, highlighted by a career-best finish in Yokohama (fourth) and his first World Cup podium in Belgium. The Canadian would love to cap off his season with his first WTS podium.
The Brownlee brothers will be racing this weekend too. Alistair has done only a few races this season due to injuries. His most notable finish came two weeks ago at the 70.3 World Championship where he was second to Jan Frodeno. Jonathon has yet to make a WTS podium this year, but if his silver at the Lausanne World Cup is any indication of his return to form, the younger brother will be someone to watch this weekend.