Pernsteiner doubles up in Austria

While the international racing circus is still on hold for three more weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a selection of pro riders lined up in Austria to compete on some of the most iconic climbs of the country. At both individual time trials on the Großglockner and the Kitzbüheler Horn, respectively, Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Austrian Hermann Pernsteiner proved to be the strongest climber.

The last four months have been a hard time for cycling enthusiasts: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the entire racing circus has been put on hold, and the only thing offering some entertainment during these weeks were some virtual races contested on rollers. Two weeks after the Slovenian national championships, a selection of pro cyclists from Austria, Germany and Switzerland are now lining up to  a series of mountain time trials held on some of Austria’s most iconic climbs for the TV show «Österreich dreht am Rad». The first test of these «Hart und härter Challenges» was contested on the famous Großglockner mountain road, one of the hardest climbs of the country. To make matters worse, riders were facing a stiff head wind on the final couple of ramps. In total the riders had to cover a distance of 11 kilometers and 900 meters of vertical ascending.

In short: there was no lack of challenges, all the more so as the riders came out of a lengthy period with no real races at all. On the demanding ramps of the Großglockner Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Hermann Pernsteiner showed that he has been working out hard during the break from racing: the Austrian climber got into a fine climbing rhythm right away, built a lead of about half a minute at the intermediate time check and rode an average speed of well over 20 kph on his way to the win. No wonder Hermann Pernsteiner was very satisfied at the finish: «I was hurting a lot. I had no real idea how to pace myself up this climb, but the wattage I was cranking out was  very good. So yes, I think I’m on target for the bigger highlights that are still to come later in the season.»

One day later Hermann Pernsteiner’s rivals had a chance to get some revenge for the defeat at the Großglockner on the slopes of the Kitzbüheler Horn. The final couple of ramps with gradients well above 20 percents were particularly challenging. But at the end of the day Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Austrian climbing specialist proved to be to strong on the five kilometers and 750 meters of vertical ascending between the toll station and the Alpenhaus at the Kitzbüheler Horn. This time he distanced second-placed Riccardo Zoidl by 32 seconds, and with Jonas Rapp in third the podium was exactly the same as the day before. The third race of the «Hart und härter Challenges» will be held on the climb to the Rettenbachferner. Hermann Pernsteiner will not be vying for three wins in as many days, however.

After these two highly successful tests of form Hermann Pernsteiner will be joining a group of Team Bahrain-McLaren riders instead to prepare for the rest of the season in the Dolomites on the slopes of the Passo Pordoi. At the same time the team’s sprinters and lead-out men are sweating the details for their sprint trains in the vicinity of the Southwestern German city of Freiburg. And last but not least, the riders that have been pre-selected to support Mikel Landa at the Tour de France are currently at an altitude training camp in the French Alps.

1. Hermann Pernsteiner, AUT/Team Bahrain-McLaren, in 32.43 minutes
2. Riccardo Zoidl, AUT, + 0.48
3. Jonas Rapp, GER, + 1.22 

1. Hermann Pernsteiner, AUT/Team Bahrain-McLaren, in 20.40 minutes
2. Riccardo Zoidl, AUT, + 0.32
3. Jonas Rapp, GER, + 0.50