America’s Gwen Jorgensen and Spain’s Mario Mola got their 2014 seasons off to the perfect start with victory in the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Mooloolaba World Cup.
The women’s race saw double delight for the United States as Jorgensen led teammate Katie Hursey to a one, two finish in the race in Australia..
Jorgensen had to pull out a particularly gritty performance to win this opening sprint race of the season with four of the world’s top 10 women competing.
Things were made slightly easier for the American with the late withdrawal of world number three and 2013 Mooloolaba winner Anne Haug of Germany due to an infection however it still took a sensational run to see off a highly talented field.
It was during the run that Jorgensen truly began to shine, showing the foot speed that floored the competition in three World Triathlon Series races last year to take the lead on the second lap of the run to win in 59min 55secs.
Her compatriot Hursey finished just 15 seconds behind to clinch second with Japan’s Ai Ueda taking third just four seconds behind her.
“I was trying to do what I could and tried to have a good swim and a good bike,” Jorgensen said.
“I haven’t really been working on my running a lot, I sort of just let that happen, but it was good today.
“I’m fortunate that I can just back off a little bit (in running training), so it was good to come out here today to see where my running is at.
“I am really focusing on the World Triathlon Series which starts in Auckland in a few weeks.
“That is also a tough race with the hills and the weather, so I just need to keep training for that.”
It took a precisely-timed kick in the third lap of the run by the local favourite to secure the men’s race as Mola saw off stiff competition from five of the top 10 men in the world.
The Spaniard finished a confident 18 seconds ahead of South Africa’s world number four Richard Murray to secure the first gold medal of the season in a time of 54:18 while Athens 2004 bronze medallist Sven Riederer of Switzerland came third in 55:04.
Mola was lurking after a congested bike transition and soon a three way race-within-a-race had developed between the Spaniard, Murray and Britain’s Tom Bishop.
The pace seemed to quicken at this point as Mola gained ascendency, while Murray and a fast-finishing Reiderer were keen to go with him.
But a trademark Mola kick at the four kilometre mark was the defining moment of the race as the world number three began to pull away from the field with no way one likely to catch him.
“The race was great for me,” he said.
“I was surprised with my swim today.
“I felt really good from the moment we hit the water so that gave me a lot of confidence to push all my energy and strength into the run.
“The energy just came on the run and I had that bit of power which gave me the win and I couldn’t be happier.
“Richard is an amazing runner, so I tried to give everything I had in my legs on the third lap so I knew I would find the gap which would be enough to find me first place.”