Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee today announced its 30-strong professional field at a live press conference at Das Walchsee Aktivresort in the host village of Walchsee in the Austrian Alps.
Heading the men’s field is defending champion and current course record holder, Frederic Funk (GER) who is looking forward to a battle with compatriot, Jan Stratmann and British athlete, Tom Bishop, as he aims for the hat trick. “I’m ready for the hat trick – that’s the main goal. I’d be disappointed with second place and this is the only race where I can say this. I’m really looking forward to the race and to defend my title for the third time. As every year, it’s going to be a big battle out there. This my home, the mountains are where I grew up and the Kaiserwinkl is my training region. The region is really beautiful and it’s one of the only races on the circuit where I actually try and enjoy the view. I never get tired of it. For cycling and running it’s perfect, although tough of course as it’s really hilly. The bike course has a bit of everything – time trialing, cornering, descents and climbs. It really is a great race and, in the end, the strongest athlete will win here. I’ll be going all in for sure!”
Bishop who travelled from the UK to attend the press conference and to make the most of a week’s training on the course, based out of Pletzer Resorts’ Das Walchsee Aktivresort said, “I’m really happy I made the switch to long course racing and I wanted a new challenge and I’m not getting any younger! I’ve started the season well and had a strong race at The Championship. This region is fantastic, I’ve already spent time training here and checking out the views. Frederic is definitely the man to beat, he knows this race and he’s really strong. I’m just going to try and learn from him on the bike course recce tomorrow!”
While Stratmann was unable to be at the press conference he sent a message saying he was looking forward to racing Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee for the first time. “I just love Austrian weather for racing, training or holidays. I’ve been around Walchsee with my family since I can think of and long before I even knew what triathlon was. After supporting my wife last year, I‘m looking forward to race myself on the beautiful roads around Walchsee and for sure to make it hard for Fred to defend his title on home soil! Guess the beer afterwards is on the winner;-).”
Other major contenders for the men’s Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee crown on 2 July include Tom Hug (SUI), fresh off his maiden win at Challenge St Pölten and Challenge Mallorca champion Jonathan Wayaffe (BEL) as well as Nicolas Mann (GER) who has unfinished business following a DNF on the alpine course in 2022.
Representing the women’s field at the press conference was Lucy Byram (GBR), current Challenge Family World Bonus leader, and starting the race as favourite. “It’s been a good start to the season with some good wins and I had a good race last week at The Championship in Šamorín. Preparation is going well. I have Challenge Wales next weekend and then a bit of recovery and then all in for Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee. It’s my first time in Austria and it’s so beautiful. Riding yesterday the views were amazing. I’m always aiming for the top step of the podium so we’ll see what happens on the day.”
Byram’s main competition will come in the form Magda Nieuwoudt (RSA) who recently took out the inaugural Challenge Fréjus on France’s Côte d’Azur as well as Germans Sarah Schönfelder and Jenny Jendryschik plus Nicola Suchi (ITA).
Challenge Family CEO, Jort Vlam, said the key to the race’s success was the incredible community support. “It goes back more than 10 years – we’re a global brand but the key is to act local and you see it here, we can’t be successful without the local community. One month before the race and the flags are up and the countdown clock is running all year round. Pletzer Resorts opened their home to us some years ago – they are supporting us on every level and we’re one big team. The race has become part of the DNA of Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee.”
Patrick Koller, head of Move & Relax at Pletzer Resort said, “Our Move & Relax concept is built on three different topics. For sure movement should be functional and sustainable and included in your daily routine. It’s about improving your daily lifestyle. At Pletzer Resorts we try and inspire people to focus on their health and performance and include this is everyone’s holidays. That’s our main goal and our cooperation with Challenge Family is perfect to give athletes all they need.”
In the foothills of the Kaiser Ranges, Walchsee-Kaiserwinkl is one of the most beautiful triathlon destinations on the planet. Winner of Best Bike Course in the 2021 Challenge Family Awards, voted by the athletes, it is renowned for its spectacular scenery as much as its tough, technical course. As well as the flagship middle distance race on Sunday 2 July, the weekend also features an aquabike, aquathlon, Junior Challenge and Challenge Women fun run in a true festival weekend of sport.
About Pletzer Resorts
As a longstanding family-owned business deeply rooted in the Tyrolean Alps, Pletzer Resorts has successfully established itself in the hospitality industry in 2008 and has now expanded to five resorts, strategically nestled among mountains and lakes. At the core of every Pletzer resort is Move & Relax concept, developed together with sport scientists. Active time in motion and optimized regeneration elevate personal performance to the new level. The goal is to provide all guests with access to state-of-the-art equipment alongside professional coaches who are dedicated to make everyone feel like a pro athlete. Whether it’s swimming laps in crystal-clear waters of pool and lake or cycling along picturesque mountain roads surrounded by idyllic scenery – Pletzer Resorts serves as an ideal starting point for any athlete seeking ultimate challenges. For more information about Das Walchsee Aktivresort and the other Pletzer Resorts, please visit our website: www.pletzer-resorts.com
Watch a recording of the press conference here: