I did the short travel to Arona in Italy at the weekend to race Aronamen Triathlon. As it seems it was a very good idea, because I did my best 70.3 race so far.
Arona is a very nice town at Lago Maggiore in northern Italy. A wonderful location for a triathlon race! The swim in the lake went smooth and without any big problems. I could hold the first big group which was a good start for me. Just two men and one woman were out of the water in front of that group.
The bike course led alongside the nice coastline of the lake to a turnaround after about 20km. The first 30km were nearly flat and I felt really good on the bike too. Then the real fun began when we rode into the first climb of the day. But even there I felt fantastic and did not struggle like I did before the training camp in Switzerland . I think I´m really used to hills now after at least 30.000 m of elevation during the 5 weeks in Leysin!
My personal nightmare of the day began in the first decent. It was very technical and my rear wheel often tried to overtake me… Due to a part with bad roads in that decent I lost my P4 bottle with the gels (and this bottle sits really tight in the P4 rim…). In the 5 seconds after that my brain was working in high speed. Just continue and risk a bonk since I just passed an aid station or turn and pick it up again and loose some more time…
I choose the saver option and turned to pick it up again. I still think I made the right decision even though it got close at the end.
The rest of the bike ride was boring since I was alone all the time apart from the motor cycle 50 to 100m in front of me. At the end I had a 2:15 bike split on a course with 900m of elevation. Happy with that too!!! Just before the transition I caught up with the 3rd placed Vladimir Polykarpenko a former ITU guy who was first out of the water. After a fast transition I could put some meters between me and him (yes even long course guys can have a fast transition ) but he closed the gap within the first 500m of the run and we ran together for the next 20km! Psychologically it was the hardest run I´ve ever had because I have not been in such a situation before. I tried to pull away some times but he closed the gap every time immediately. Just 500m before the finish line an all or nothing effort rescued me the podium! I don’t want to know what would have happened if the finish line had been 10m further away…
The fastest run split of the day (1:17:40 including the transition) was again a personal best. It´s funny that I had my fastest 70.3 race (4:01:45) on such a hilly course . The second placed swiss pro Nicolas Beyeler and the first placed Italian pro Domenico Passuello were 1.5 /4 min in front at the end.
Now I´m looking forward to defend my title as north German long course champ at Ostseeman Triathlon in just 11 days!