April 28th, 2016 by Will
I’m really happy, and relieved to be sitting here in Fuerteventura on my post race ‘Over Drive’ training camp with a close 2nd place finish in Challenge Fuerteventura under my belt and as a result confidence back where it needs to be to be successful in this game.
It’s only 2nd place, I’ve had many of these before in 1/2 distance races and it becomes more and more apparent to me that the guy who wins these is half of the time the person who is willing to go to a different level of hurt to elk out that last 30 seconds. I don’t think that there was that much difference between myself and Andi Bocherer in the race so congrats to him for the win. This was a training race and a process goal for me heading into Ironman Brazil next month and I just didn’t quite have that smark and race fitness to jump the gap and take the win.
I arrived the week before the race, it’s such an easy place to base yourself with a short flight with easy transfers and then everything from your training to your food right there on your door step. It’s easy to be relaxed at such races especially when you arrive the week before. That feeling will be crucial when I race in Brazil but going to be harder to achieve that in a different continent.
Race day came round and I felt pretty fresh, bouncing out of bed quite well considering the time in the morning and had enough energy on my 5:30am morning jog to be happy.
The swim was pretty straight forward, I followed the train of 6 guys, and my Speedo wetsuit and goggles were perfect even though I was wearing my Pearl Izumi sleeved Tri suit under the wetsuit. That can make your arms a bit tired as it restricts movement a little bit but on the bike it’s FAST so I took the gamble and thankfully I was strong enough to get away with it.
The bike was where my main concern was, with a field of top bikers and I really wanted to prove to myself that I could ride with them as the whole last year I didn’t manage it once, so you can see why I might be nervous! I knew my bike conditioning is as good as it’s ever been right now so I tried to remember that fact whenever the going got tough! I tried to ride at a level I knew I could hold the whole way. Fred Van Lierde was riding a bit too strong for me right off the bat so I had to let him go, I also let Henrik Hydelunde drift away but I had confidence that I could bring him back on the run (by the size of his legs!) I ended up riding the first 1/2 on my own at around 340w average before Andi Bocherer and Timo Bract caught me at which point I dropped back and followed Andi as best I could. Timo left a bit of a gap so I jumped around him and managed to shake him off which is a bonus! I just followed Andi the whole way in from there, Andreas Dreitz also joined us towards the end but I think by then we were all a bit too dead to smash each other.
To be honest I was already stoked after coming in on my BMC TM01 with some of the best guys in the sport with a new NP record of 330w! It showed a real nice improvement for me on the bike which is great for the season ahead! From the very start on the run I felt DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!! I had no spark at all in my legs and no push off at all in my stride. I realised quite quickly that something had happened to Fred Van Lierde (later learnt he crashed, get well soon man!) So the leader was only 2min30 ahead. Dreitz got a little gap on me off the bike so I had him to chase and I actually pushed through my pain too hard on the first 5k to catch him. As soon as I caught him he attacked me again and instantly dropped me and straight away I felt exhausted and started to think about damage limitation dropping momentarily back down to a more comfortable pace and getting some Etixx Gels into the body. I grovelled through the next 8k getting time put into me by Dreitz and then Bocherer tearing past me and I even started to look over my shoulder worried about the top 5 finish even! However I persevered and after a bit of cold water over the head and some coke at the aid stations I couldn’t believe it but I had risen from my grave and I was running well again! I picked off Henrik the bike leader, then Drietz also came back to me very quickly but Andi also had found some extra gas but I had then run out of real estate!
Last year was the hardest year of my life on and off the race course. With the burn out, fatigue and the first years with my son Freddy and everything that comes with that, I am very happy to be back racing at a high level and have the belief that I can win big races! I’m super grateful to my amazing team BMC Etixx Powered by Uplace, my support team Ben De Wold, Luc Van Lierde and Rudy Heylen, my wife Clare, family and friends. without them I’d still be stuck where I was before but we’ve come out the other side now stronger and richer for the experience. This is quite a long blog, but it was an important turnaround race for me and I’m excited to continue the progression through the year hopefully to me best season yet.