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Molla triumphs in Le Mans – cross-country round-up

Ethiopian Getaneh Tamire Molla opened his 2017 season with victory over 9km at the Cross Ouest France in Le Mans on Sunday (15).

Molla has represented Ethiopia at continental level on three occasions over the past two years – including at the 2015 African Games in Brazzaville where he won the 5000m title – but the 23-year-old could put himself in contention for a spot on the national team for the IAAF World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017 on 26 March.

Molla, who lowered his 5000m PB to 13:05.59 last summer, won the senior men’s 9km in 28:52 by three seconds from Burundi’s Thierry Ndikumwenayo (28:55) with Biyazen Alehegn, who finished fourth over 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016, rounding out the podium in third in 29:07.

France-based Kenyan Susan Kipsang won the women’s 6.3km in 22:37 ahead of Ethiopia’s Chaltu Negasa (22:39) and Bahrain’s Edao Bontu (22:43) with world U20 1500m champion Adanech Anbesa fourth in 22:49.

Alehegn and Anbesa are both still eligible to represent Ethiopia in the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in March.

Three years after his first triumph, Kenya’s Robert Ndiwa claimed his second victory at the 40th edition of the Cross Internazionale della Vallagarina held on a snow-laden course on the outskirts of Rovereto on Sunday.

Ndiwa covered the undulating and lapped course measured at just over 9km in 27:22 to defeat in-form Olivier Irabaruta from Burundi – who upset Stanley Biwott at the New Year’s Eve 10km in Rome – by five seconds with Marco Salami third on home soil in 27:32.

Ethiopia’s Alemitu Hawi was expected to become the first woman since 1990 to claim back-to-back titles but the 2014 world U20 5000m silver medallist had to settle for third in the senior women’s 6km in 22:45 behind Sara Dossena (22:25) and Valeria Roffino (22:27).

At the Abdijcross in Kerkrade on Sunday, Sweden’s David Nilsson bounced back from a DNF at the European Cross Country Championships to win the senior men’s race in 33:46 ahead of Belgium-based Ethiopian Tasama Dame (34:06) and Burundian Olympian Onesphone Nkuzimana (34:32).

Belgian athletes took a one-two in the senior women’s race with 23-year-old Imana Truyers defeating Veerle Dejaeghere – some 20 years her senior – by 15 seconds, 27:42 to 27:54.

Steven Mills for the IAAF