Judging by my performance in training I think I made a step forward this year. However, after two races that were not up to my expectations, the doubt started to creep in. I went in Litschau in search of confirmation that I’m on the right path and luckily that’s what I got.
Water temperature was 23,5C so we had a non wetsuit 2,300m swim. I exited the water in second group, 1:30 min down on the leaders which is good for me.
I was looking forward to the bike course as I felt it will suit me. It’s a three loop course with plenty of short hills. My Garmin showed 1055m of climbing over 85,6 km. After the first loop I found myself in 7th place with a group about 1 minute ahead. I could hear announcer mentioning Georg Swoboda not long after I went by. Last year he had 4:16h bike split at Challenge Barcelona so I expected he’ll catch me soon. However, that didn’t happen.
While entering the last loop announcer said I was riding in 6th place and the front group was not far away. Few kilometers later I passed them. The timing was good as few moments before that Christian Birngruber managed to get away from the group. I caught him and after a long solo ride I finally found some company. Since I thought we were in the lead I tried to get away few times and it seemed like Christian wanted to do that as well. Neither of us succeeded but those attacks and counterattacks helped to put a bit of time to the group behind us. When we entered T2 I found out that Daniel Niederreiter had a 3 minute lead.
Run course was very though with a lot of small climbs so it was hard to get into any sort of rhythm. Christian stayed with me during the first (of four) loop and then he started to drift back. I didn’t know the gap to Daniel but I don’t think that would change anything. At the end I had the fastest run split but that was still not enough to catch the leader. Christian recovered in the last loop and finished only 20 seconds behind me. Luckly the course was not any longer.
I’m happy with 2nd place. This was probably my best race this season and a good sigh for Challenge Vichy in 3 weeks.