The pre-race headlines were all about an Olympic Triathlon champion (Nicola Spirig), versus an IRONMAN World Champion (Anne Haug) at Sunday’s Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee, the race also serving as the Europe Triathlon (formerly ETU) Middle Distance European Championships.
They finished first and second as expected, but Spirig was in total control for four hours. Well, less than four hours, as it only took her 3:58:00 to complete the course.
For the men, Frederic Funk (GER) continued with his progress, repeating the performance he produced last month (also in Austria), at Challenge St. Poelten.
Nicola Spirig in charge from the the start
For Spirig of course, her number one focus is the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, which will be her fifth start at the most prized event in sport. Ensuring her swim is on-point is always a priority, such is her strength on the bike and run, and all looks good there too. She exited the swim with Spain’s Sara Perez Sala, and from then on it was game over, especially as she was already three minutes clear of Haug with less than half an hour of the race completed
As she did at Challenge Gran Canaria (another win), Spirig was riding the Specialized Tarmac SL7 road bike which she’ll use in Tokyo rather than a TT-specific bike, but it makes no difference. She looks great on it, and powered away to the fastest bike split too. Another three minutes quicker than Haug and the German, even with her running skills, was never going to close more than six minutes on the London 2012 champion. She did regain around 90 seconds, but ultimately this was a Spirig masterclass and another European Championship to add to the six she already has over the Standard distance.
Two Olympic medals already, make no mistake, Nicola Spirig will be a threat next month at Odaiba Marine Park.
Funk at the front all day
Still only 23 years old, Team ERDINGER Alkoholfrei athlete Frederic Funk has been a regular on the pages of TRI247 for several years, particularly in Challenge Family racing. Twice second previously in Walchsee, he would improve on that on Sunday.
Fourth out of the swim, he was soon at the front of the race and riding with Italy’s Giulio Molinari. The German soon dropped the Italian on the stunning roads of the Kaiserwinkl region, but would eventually be joined by countryman and former Pro cyclist, Ruben Zepuntke. They started the run together with a big lead.
Their efforts on the bike were rewarded, but also needed, as behind them Thomas Steger (AUT) was flying on the run, his 1:08:35 split a full five minutes quicker than the 1:13:38 of Funk. It didn’t matter, Funk was still a clear winner.
The bronze medal was decided on the final blue carpet, where Bart Aernouts, the 2018 IRONMAN World Championship silver medallist was finally able to catch and pass Zepuntke to complete the podium.
No surprises really, that was the trio of athletes I highlighted in my pre-race preview.
Europe Triathlon Middle Distance European Championship Results
Challenge Kaiserwinkl-Walchsee, Sunday 27th June 2021
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- Frederic Funk (GER) – 3:36:56
- Thomas Steger (AUT) – 3:38:51
- Bart Aernouts (BEL) – 3:42:05
- Ruben Zepuntke (GER) – 3:42:09
- Gregory Barnaby (ITA) – 3:43:38
- Giulio Molinari (ITA) – 3:44:57
- Lukas Kocar (CZE) – 3:46:02
- Julian Erhardt (GER) – 3:46:19
- Nicolas Mann (GER) – 3:46:26
- Alexey Kalistratov (RUS) – 3:46:57
- Nicola Spirig (SUI) – 3:58:00
- Anne Haug (GER) – 4:03:03
- Marta Bernardi (ITA) – 4:09:53
- Anne Reischmann (GER) – 4:12:01
- Sara Perez Sala (ESP) – 4:12:28
- Giorgia Priarone (ITA) – 4:13:19
- Lena Berlinger (GER) – 4:14:19
- Laura Jansen (GER) – 4:15:15
- Diede Diederiks (NED) – 4:18:52
- Simone Kunhofer (AUT) – 4:19:55