Mario Mola and Katie Zaferes claim World Triathlon Abu Dhabi titles
Third success in the UAE capital for Mola while Zaferes controls women's event
• Abu Dhabi Triathlon 2019: when, where, who is competing and how to watch on TV
Mario Mola and Katie Zaferes were the respective big winners at the World Triathlon Abu Dhabi on Friday at Yas Marina Circuit.
Mola beat British athlete Alex Yee and fellow Spaniard Fernando Alarza at Yas Marina to clinch the title in the men's race, while Zaferes was the victor in the women's event ahead of American compatriot Taylor Spivey.
The race was the first part of the ITU World Triathlon Series 2019 season.
It was Mola's third win in Abu Dhabi, following up on his successes in 2015 and 2016 – the first two years of the event when it was staged on Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
But it was his first win at Yas, which has served as the venue for the race since 2017. He finished eighth that year and was runner-up to South Africa's Henri Schoeman in 2018.
Mola was one of the back-markers at the start of the race, languishing in 16th place during the opening leg – the 750-metre swimming stage. He fell further back to 24th at the start of the 20-kilometre cycling leg before powering his way to the front during the 5km run.
“To start the season with a win is a perfect start,” said Mola. “My swimming and bike wasn’t smooth but these things happen, and I knew I had to dig deep and run consistently to close the gap.”
Yee was ecstatic of the runner up spot behind the world champion and said it was a new experience.
“I arrived for this race after a very good camp and to get the experience at this level,” said Yee who trains with the Brownlee brothers Alistair and Jonny, in Leeds.
“I’m on cloud nine. I felt really good and well prepared, and the race panned out the way I wanted.”
Meanwhile, world No 2 Zaferes was thrilled with her performance in taking the victory in the women's race.
“It is a great start to getting to the World crown and I just want to get better as the season progresses and finishing second just by a small margin drove me to what to do this year," she said.
Spivey said of her second place: “That race couldn’t have got better for me and I gave myself an opportunity to finally finish on the podium here."
Updated: March 8, 2019 07:00 PM