King of the Lake Time Trial
What to do if you like racing, but most of the European races are cancelled due to the Coronavirus? Discover our latest article.
King of the Lake 2020: A breath taking experience
What to do if you like racing, but most of the European races are cancelled due to the Coronavirus? Go for a time trial! The King of the Lake in Austria, also known as KOTL, is Europe's biggest time trial event and one of our sponsored athletes conquered a podium spot.
About the team
Team Strassacker joined the TeamFFWD community in 2020 with big plans and enthusiasm to promote FFWD in Germany. We know this year turned out differently for all of us and for the team the goals that were set got cancelled one by one. Some events have another setup then road races and were therefore able to continue as planned. For Holger Koopmann, one of the riders of Team Strassacker, this race was his opportunity to put all training hours into a great result! Below you will read his story!
Race report by Holger Koopmann
You want to be one of Europe’s fastest amateur time trial riders? Then you better prepare yourself. The King of the Lake is the continents biggest and probably most beautiful race against the clock. And it's a very tough competition: Besides the Queen of the Lake and King of the Lake for amateur cyclists the Elite King of the Lake invites licensed cyclists up to World Tour professionals.
And this year it was an anniversary: It's the 10th KOTL, happy Birthday! More than 1,400 starters from around 20 nations came to the party and I was one of them. For me this was my third participation here at the beautiful Attersee, nearby Salzburg. In this crazy year, that saw almost every plan destroyed by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, this was my big goal: getting as fast as possible on the 47 km long track around the lake. The preparation could have been better: a torn ligament in spring and a fracture of the heel bone four weeks before the race wasn’t really helpful in my build-up. And there was another question: Should I really do all that training just for a single race? And will it take place in the end. Three weeks beforehand, however, there was the redeeming information: there will be a KOTL 2020. And for me too, the injury-related worries eased the closer I got to the competition.
But even if I've never prepared so intensively for a time trial and felt in good shape, I was still very curious to see how things would go this year. On the one hand, you could see from all sides via social media how intensively everyone else was preparing for this one and only competition this year - so there would be no easy opponents. On the other hand I bought a new time trial bike and wanted to move it. This went hand in hand with a complete system change to disc brakes and also brand new FFWD wheels – the Falcon front and DISC rear wheel set – with tubeless tires etc. In my preparation, the bike and the components had to be extensively tested. In addition, there was an aero test on the cycling track in Büttgen nearby Düsseldorf, in order to tease out the last watts and getting as aero as possible.
So I went to the start well prepared and was curious to see how the new setup would work. The weather was identical to the previous year: sliding wind on the way there and corresponding headwind on the way back. While many riders this year were apparently based on the tactics of previous years and really accelerated for the first 24 km, I took it a little easier this year. Only lightly, but I made sure that my average wattage was not too high. After 12 km at the first intermediate time, I was only a few seconds behind my time from the previous year, but much more seconds behind the competition who really let it rip this year.
After 24 km, when you make your way back to Schörfling in Unterach, my more consistent pace paid off for the first time. On this second section I was able to improve my time by 15 seconds compared to the previous year and was now a few seconds ahead of my own schedule. That made me feel good and the focus was now on staying focused on the way back and keeping the power output consistently high. Last year I had a lot of struggles here. This year was different. During the following high-speed passage I felt like a drop, with my FFWD's flying though the wind.
Unfortunately at Nussdorf one rider overtook me and we had we had a little cat-and-mouse-game for the next few kilometers. Later it turned out that it was CT professional Moran Vermeulen from Team Felbermayr - Simplon Wels that I tried to follow at the climbs where he pushed himself bike really well (no wonder, he weighs almost 15 kg less with almost the same size). I stopped paying attention to my watts and paid for it. I lost my focus and some time in our little battle at Nussdorf.
Luckily the short but 13% steep climb to the church in Buchberg woke me up again. Another 5 km to the finish and I now I really accelerated again. I was able to distance Vermeulen by ten seconds. The headwind coming across from the right costed a lot of speed, but my competitors lost more than me. In the end I finished at the 6th place overall - and 3rd in my age group under 50 years. A podium spot! With an average power output of 365 watt during this hour of suffering I repeated my last year's result, even though the time at the finish was five seconds slower than the year before with 1h 00m 18s. But while I was 28 seconds away from the top 5 in 2019, this time it was just 44 hundredths of a second behind the Belgian Filip Speybrouck, who was UCI master hour record holder in 2015…
You could get annoyed about it and start thinking about where you lost this little time. But after all the uncertainties in the run-up, I just enjoyed this race – the one and only I did in this strange season.
By Holger Koopmann, Team Strassacker
Photos: Gottfried Gärtner