Frederic Funk was by far the strongest athlete at last weekend’s Challenge St. Pölten. Except for the swim, the German athlete led the race from start to finish. On the bike he managed to create a huge gap on the rest of his competitors. It took him a while to realize exactly what he’d done, though. “I still can’t quite believe what happened out there,” he said right after crossing the finish line. “When I’m leading I can push 10 to 20 watts more without more effort. It’s the feeling when you are leading…there was a helicopter all the time. I knew I would be on the livestream and people would see me, that’s quite motivating.”
Funk had no idea how big of a gap he created between him and the chasers. “I was just in the mix after the swim and then immediately pushed it from the beginning on the bike. I came away from the group, had a gap and just kept pushing. I never knew how big the gap was and how fast they were riding behind me. Only when I came off the bike I heard I had I four minute lead.”
With such a big lead, you would think he would feel relaxed going onto the run. But Funk didn’t let his thoughts drift off and kept pushing. “On the run I wasn’t sure if the gap would be enough, because usually running is not my best discipline. But it was the same as on the bike, because I was leading I could run faster than usual. I had a pretty solid fast half-marathon and could bring it home. I’m really happy.”
Only in the final meters, Funk started to fully enjoy that winning feeling. “The first time I was sure I would win this race was 2 km before the finish, even though before I had more than a five-minute lead already…I was afraid all the time. I knew they were strong runners, like Jan Stratmann who took second,” Funk said. However, even Stratmann wasn’t able to close in on a gap that big, so it was Funk who got to lift the finish line tape first.