- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Spain’s Javier Gomez won his third straight world triathlon championship Saturday, finishing second behind countryman Mario Mola in the ITU World Triathlon Series finale.

Gomez and Mola traded the lead several times on the last lap of the run until Mola outkicked Gomez over the final few hundred meters at Grant Park in downtown Chicago.

Mola finished the 1,500- meter swim in Lake Michigan, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 53 seconds, coming in just 4 seconds ahead of Gomez. South Africa’s Richard Murray was third in 1:45:35.

The finish was dramatic, with Gomez making a final bid to win.

“I surged pretty fast and said, ‘I’m going to give everything now and see what happens,’” Gomez said.

“But he was a bit stronger in the last 300 meters,” Gomez said about Mola. “I just couldn’t beat him. He was faster today.”

But by that point in the race, with the two of them well out in front of the rest of the field, Gomez knew he had the title.

“I was happy with my title in my pocket when I was running shoulder by shoulder with him,” Gomez said. “I still tried to win the race, but he was just stronger today and I’m happy with the second and happy with my fifth world title.”

Mola finished second in the series standings. France’s Vincent Luis was third.

“When I have the opportunity to race side by side (with Gomez), it’s always an amazing feeling,” Mola said. “I was lucky to get this one, to win today, but ah, he’s five times world champion.”

Gomez is the first man to win three straight triathlon world championships and five overall. He also won in 2010 and 2008, making him the sport’s dominant man over the last several years.

“I think I will need some time and probably some years to understand what I’ve done,” Gomez said. “It’s something that is amazing and I’m really proud of my career. I hope it’s not the last one.”

Gomez said he’ll focus now on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He has never won an Olympic gold medal.

The top American finisher Saturday was Ben Kanute of nearby Geneva in 20th.

Kanute was actually in the lead at the end of the biking portion of the race.

“I just tried to put myself in a position to do well and I was feeling good on the bike so I threw in some attacks, I went off the front a little bit,” Kanute said. “I love racing off the front so I took a chance. … I like racing aggressively.”

American Gwen Jorgensen won the women’s race Friday to take her second straight season championship.

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