Andreas Böcherer earned the European 70.3 Championship title with his recent win at 70.3 Wiesbaden, and the quiet German has had a very good season so far. We won't see him in Las Vegas, but he is looking forward to Kona. Slowtwitch had a few words with him.
Slowtwitch: Before we get too deep into this, should we call you Andreas or Andi?
ST: European Champion sounds pretty good to us and we assume you like the ring of that title too.
Andi: It hasn't sunken in yet, but I think I will like it :-)
ST: Talk about your day in Wiesbaden.
Andi: Alarm clock woke me up at 4:10. Before Andreas Raelert's new bike world record I used to get up at 4:13. (@ Andreas: We have to talk about compensation for that.) A little breakfast, then on the bus. Unfortunately the bus driver didn't know where to go, so it took us 1 hour instead of 25 minutes, so I arrived at T1 a little under one hour to the start. So I prepared my bike in a hurry, normally I like to take my time in transition. Then I met my family and my coach Lubos Bilek, jumped into my wetsuit and did a little warm-up swim. Right after the beach start I got water into my goggles and had to stop, which was really annoying. It took me almost the whole swim to get back in the lead group. On the bike I took the lead immediately and said "adios" to Filip Ospaly to impress him. But somehow my legs were tired and I couldn't open a gap to Filip bigger than 300 meters. So I regretted my words badly.
After 35k on the bike I was still not able to hammer the bike and
Mathias Hecht and two other guys had joined me in the lead. My last chance was to take a Red Bull and believe in it. Now my bike legs came back and I quickly opened up a gap. But at 70k I had only 1 minute on Hecht and 2 on Ospaly. Entering a headwind section I felt I could have a little chance to win and I was on fire. The last 7k of the bike ride is a steep, but straight and wide highway going downhill. My Felt DA + Zipp Sub9 Disc + 808 Firecrest is a deadly combination and exiting T2 I had extended my lead to over 4min. So I started the run as hard as I could as I hoped to maintain a lead of over two minutes on Ospaly reaching the midway point of the half marathon. And it worked, 2:30 at 10.5k cracked Filip and at 16k I had still 2min. But now it was big suffer time. Before I calculated the time I could lose per kilometer, but now my brain left me and I just couldn't do the easiest calculations. Entering the finish chute in front of the crazy German home crowd was amazing and hugging my girlfriend I burst into tears of pain and happiness. After greeting second and third place, the race after the race began and I had to do lots of interviews (still my brain lacked sugar), drug testing, flower ceremony, press conference. It never took so long to get under the shower.
ST: Where you wondering about Sebastian Kienle coming up on you during the bike segment?
Andi: Of course, everybody does. He is one of the very best bikers in the world. My plan was to let him get as near as 1 minute and then start to hammer the bike and put time into him, to frustrate and break him, just the way I had beaten him at Citytriathlon Heilbronn two months before.
ST: When did you find out he was out of the race?
Andi: At about 20k a guy from the press told me he had crashed two times. Normally I fear his ability to fly on the downhill section so I thought that today he would not be able to make up ground in the downhill sections. Later in the bike part I heard that he was out after a third crash.
ST: How bad were the conditions actually? Was it very wet and rainy?
Andi: The problem was, that it was actually drying and you had dry curves, wet curves and wet and smeary curves in some forest sections. So you had to be really cautious. I have a picture of my 4-year old daughter on my aerobars. So I never risk too much although it is sometimes hard to resist.
ST: What about the course profile itself?
Andi: Although the most of the 1500m of climbing is in the last 50k, the first 40k have a lot (about 10) steep climbs, which take you 1-3 minutes. They can really break your legs, but you can lose a lot of time as well. Maybe it was good I wasn't able to hammer the bike in that section.
ST: Were you confident going in?
Andi: Starting race week I had the strong feeling I would win the race, which I regarded as not very likely to happen, because a little muscle injury forced me out of running for 5 weeks after 70.3 Switzerland. So I talked a lot about it with my girlfriend to avoid frustrating feelings when I should have a bad day and work hard to take fourth, fifth or tenth place. I think parts of "I am here to win" are bullshit, because the question is not how to win but how to get ready to kill yourself for a result under your expectations. That's why I think it is more interesting how Macca was able to fight for fourth place in 2009 than how he won in 2010. But the good thing was I entered the race with three straight wins all with course records, which took a lot of pressure from me. So played it very confident and I felt the fear of my main rivals.
ST: Is everything just clicking this year?
Andi: Seems I have decoded my winning genome. I never thought the mental part would have such a big impact, but having beaten Sebastian at Heilbronn and winning 70.3 Switzerland gave me such a big confidence boost and took a lot of self-doubts from me.
ST: What is next for you?
Andi: We will spend tow weeks at the Atlantic Ocean in France (holidays for my family, hard work for me). Then I will do XTERRA Switzerland for fun and then 70.3 Cancun as a test for Hawaii.
ST: When we talked earlier you sounded uncertain about starting in Las Vegas. Why is that?
Andi: I think would really kill myself in a World Championship and I doubt I would have these 100% mental energy left going into the Hawaii Ironman to withstand those hard conditions.
ST: How far apart do you think the 70.3 Worlds would need to be from the Ironman World Championships to be able to do them both?
Andi: The date is good, but racing Wiesbaden, Vegas and Kona seems too much for me. Maybe next year.
ST: Talk to us about your sponsors.
Andi: At the moment Felt is my main sponsor, which is fantastic because as I started triathlon Craig Walton was my super hero and I love his racing style. They let me built my bike just how I want it, so no compromises with equipment. Further main sponsors are Iron Vital and ImmunPRO, which help me to stay healthy. I swim faster with Sailfish wetsuits, shift faster with Shimano Di2 and ride faster with Zipp wheels. Craft clothes help me to stay warm and dry in the cold and wet German winter and I really love my white-orange-black race kit. Still I am looking for a run shoe sponsor.
ST: Are shoes one of those items where it is easier to just buy them and then use what you want versus fighting for some sponsorship?
Andi: I would love to have a real shoe sponsor and there are some companies who would like to give me shoes. But I can't eat shoes, so they should come with appropriate financial support.
ST: But the shoe has to fit, right?
Andi: Absolutely. It is most important that your feet and shoes are working together well.
ST: Do you feel more interest from sponsors now?
Andi: The main thing is to make your current sponsors happy and to give them back the double of their investment. If your sponsors are satisfied, this will attract others. But I was really surprised by the big feedback in the media.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Andi: I have a degree in math and studied Latin and old Greek in school. I love classic music.
Images 1,2 and 4 are courtesy and © Scheiderbauer Sports