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Upbeat Funk aims for Walchsee hat-trick – but Bishop stands in his way

Frederic Funk is aiming for a third straight win in Austrian event - but up-and-coming Brits look to have strong claims too

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Frederic Funk has his sights set on a third-straight victory at Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee in the Austrian Alps at the start of next month.

The German is #11 in the PTO World Rankings but he’s likely to face stiff competition from a man making rapid progress up the standings this season – Tom Bishop.

The Brit is into the top 30 after a strong start to the season, headlined by a victory at Challenge Puerto Varas and there’s not been much between himself and Funk in their last two events at the PTO European Open in Ibiza and The Championship in Samorin.

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Funk the man to beat

Funk is not only the defending champion, having beaten Sam Long in 2022, but also the current course record holder at Walchsee and he said: “I’m ready for the hat trick – that’s the main goal. I’m really looking forward to the race and to defend my title for the third time. I’d be disappointed with second place and this is the only race where I can say this.

“As every year, it’s going to be a big battle out there. These 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.

Frederic Funk Challenge Walchsee 2022
Funk is looking to defend his title [Photo credit: Challenge Family]

“It’s tough of course as it’s really hilly but the bike course has a bit of everything – time trialling, 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 flew out from the UK to speak at the press conference which launched the event – and to make the most of a week’s training on the course.

Having moved up from short course he’s already made his mark and he said: “I’m really happy I made the switch to long course racing. I wanted a new challenge and I’m not getting any younger! I’ve started the season well.

“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!”

But it’s not just about Funk and Bishop as they’ll be joined by the likes of Jan Stratmann and Tom Hug, recent winner of Challenge St Pölten.

Byram’s own hat-trick bid

On the women’s side, young Brit Lucy Byram has made similarly eye-catching progress to Bishop in the rankings this year.

It means she will likely start as favourite on July 2nd and she said: “It’s been a good start to the season with some good wins [at CLASH Miami and Challenge Puerto Varas] and I had a good race last week at The Championship in Samorin.

“Preparation is going well. I have Challenge Wales next weekend and then a bit of recovery and then all in for Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee.

“I’m always aiming for the top step of the podium so we’ll see what happens on the day.”

Lucy Byram Challenge Puerto Varas win 2023 photo credit: Challenge Family
Byram has won twice already this season [Photo credit: Challenge Family]

Byram’s main competition could come in the form of South Africa’s Magda Nieuwoudt who recently took out the inaugural Challenge Fréjus on France’s Côte d’Azur.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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