Mario Mola is the only man to win both Abu Dhabi races in its two-year history but the Spaniard insists that doesn’t mean he’s odds on favourite for a repeat this weekend as he sets his sights on claiming more world crowns.
The 27-year-old enters the season-opener as the ITU World Triathlon champion, having added to his UAE success with victories in Gold Coast, Yokohama and Hamburg last year for his maiden global title.
The Mallorcan has happy memories of the UAE capital, standing top of the podium after conquering the course on both occasions at the iconic Corniche.
The 2014 and 2015 world runner-up has given himself the best possible chance to make it an Abu Dhabi hat-trick on Saturday and lay down an early marker of retaining his world championship over the nine-round series with a three-month training camp in Spain.
But even that doesn’t mean guaranteed success with Mola remaining cautious of the challenge ahead.
“It has been a good winter period and most importantly I have been injury free during that time,” Mola told Sport360 from Mallorca before his arrival in Abu Dhabi.
“You don’t really know what to expect in the first race of the season and there are always elements of surprises that crops up.”
While it will be his first competitive appearance of the campaign, his task to get off to a winning start is not a straight forward one given that seven of the world’s top 10 of the strong 60-man field are set to feature this weekend.
World No3 Fernando Alarza, Portugal’s Olympian Joao Silva, training partner Richard Murray and five-time world champion Javier Gomez all stand in his way of denying him a historic three-peat.
While Mola understands all eyes will be on him every step of the way as he tackles the 1,500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run around some iconic venues at Yas, he will just focus on his own game plan.
“In our sport, you have people who have won several world titles like Javier Gomez and the Brownlee brothers,” he said. “If I think achieving one world title would be enough, I think I would be wrong. I want to win more world titles but I will just keep doing the same things as in the past and remain motivated and be in the best possible shape.
“My goal is to be on top of the podium and be in contention for the world championships crown at the end of the year. You can only do that, if you’re consistent and you race well during the entire the
“I always think before every race, that everyone who is at the starting line up wants to win and cross the finish line first. I don’t want to see it as an individual battle. Everyone has the same chances given it’s the start of a new season and of course, it’s good to know that all the competitors have you in mind before the race.
“They think you can do well but it’s the new season and every race is different. All I can promise is that I will give my best.”
Mola and the rest of the field will also have to tackle a new course that will see them run the Yas Marina Circuit track and cycle past some of the landmark locations of the UAE capital, including Ferrari World and Yas Links.
While the new venue is part of the organisers’ plans to make it more competitive, they also have an eye of bidding for the season-ending Grand Final in 2021.
“If I talk about my experience in the race I would love to have a Grand Final in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“In terms of venue and organisation, I think it has everything to host the biggest event in our sport. I would love to be back for Abu Dhabi for a bigger event that it is now. I’m sure they wouldn’t have any problems to make it happen and put it together for such a big event.”