Bart Aernouts used his experience and impressive running talent to take the biggest win of his career at Challenge Roth. TriathlonWorld catches up with the champ.
July 11, 2017 | PERSONALITY|
Don't expect Bart Aernouts to make much noise about his impressive win at Challenge Roth on the weekend. The quiet, modest and understated Belgian was obviously thrilled with his big win on the weekend, but was hardly ready to consider himself a Kona contender (as we here at TriathlonWorld.com decared him after Sunday's win).
"October is still far away," Aernouts said after the race in Roth. "I had a good seven weeks now and two big wins in one season. That’s amazing, but you don’t know what will happen in October. Hawaii is different."
For Aernouts the Kona challenge might come early in the day. It was hard enough to stay in contact with the lead men in Roth after the swim - that only becomes more of a issue on the Big Island. In Roth, though, Aernouts had all the answers to the tough race conditions that included stronger than normal winds.
"I’m not a front pack swimmer, so today was lonely on the bike," he said. "It was quite windy here today, especially for Roth. I kept thinking this is not the fast race that everyone is talking about. I think the first lap the front guys stayed together and I knew I had to wait for the second lap when some of the guys were going to explode and it’s the moment where you have to try to close some gaps or stay close. That’s what happened. Unfortunately Nils (Frommhold), who had quite a big lead, crashed. That was a change in the race."
Chasing his BMC-Etixx team mate Maurice Clavel off the bike, Aernouts used both his experience and, also a bit of guts, to make a move to the front during the marathon.
"I took a risk in the marathon," he said. "I am quite experienced at pacing in the marathon, but at the halfway point I pushed a bit harder to close the gap on the leaders. I tried to make them suffer a bit mentally and maybe surprise them a little bit and then it was just all about hanging on to the finish line."
Aernouts joins some heady company in becoming the Challenge Roth champion, an especially impressive achievement considering how difficult it is to take the super-strong German full-distance contingent on their home territory. He was also incredibly impressed with the Roth atmosphere.
"What is really special about this race is the spectators make it easier," he said. "I think that is part of what makes it a fast race – because the spectators help you to survive and push you all the way. There are no parts of the course where you are on your own. And that’s not just for the first guys, its for everybody."