This Sunday, Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee will take place with exciting racing promised in the men’s and women’s races, both featuring deep fields, including defending champion Frederic Funk.
As a local, Funk knows the race like no other: he regularly trains on the alpine course as he lives just a stone’s throw away. With already two wins to his name, there are few races where he likes to win as much as Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee. Still, he will have to deal with Thomas Bishop (GBR), among others: that duel will be an especially interesting one this year, because a month ago the two athletes already visited the race location for a few days and completed several training sessions together. Bishop has already acknowledged Funk is the race favourite, but that he will do everything possible to take the win himself.
Eyes will also be on the Dutchman, Niek Heldoorn. The young athlete only made a serious switch to middle and long distance racing last year and has won several races since then. Within the Challenge Family circuit, his achievements include second place at the Challenge Almere-Amsterdam European Championships and a win at Challenge Malta. This year, Heldoorn has already had a successful start to the season. Other strong contenders include Jan Stratmann (GER), Jonathan Wayaffe (BEL) and Mattia Ceccarelli (ITA).
An exciting battle is also expected in the women’s race. Defining a top seed is difficult due to the number of world-class women racing Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee. Lucy Byram (GBR) also trained with Funk and Bishop in the region last month and so knows the course well. Byram’s wins this year include Clash Miami, Challenge Puerto-Varas and Challenge Wales and with such a winning streak under her belt and she’s ready for a fourth win.
However, Byram will face competition from, among others, Lucy Buckingham (GBR). After a great season last year, Buckingham is back from injury and a win at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee would be the ideal opportunity to cement her return. Also in contention is Imogen Simmonds (SUI) who won Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer just earlier this month, Grace Thek (AUS), fresh from her victory at OTSO Challenge Salou, Magda Nieuwoudt (RSA) who has had wins at Challenge Fréjus and Challenge Korea his year plus Els Visser (NED) with a second at Challenge Wanaka and a win at Ironman New Zealand.
Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee will stream live in German and English with the English commentary by Belinda Granger at www.challenge-family.live along with live updates and results. The start gun goes off at 8:30am CEST. For further information, visit www.challenge-walchsee.com.