At the end of March, pro Andi Boecherer shot to the front of the bike against a stacked pro field at Ironman 70.3 California in Oceanside. He entered T2 with almost a four-minute lead over the chase pack with a race-best bike split of 2:11:11, and held on for third place at the finish after being chased down by Andy Potts and Jesse Thomas. The German had a breakthrough season in 2011, when he won three Ironman 70.3’s and placed eighth at the Ironman World Championship, and 2012 seemed to be off to a good start when he finished fourth at the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon before injuries derailed his plans. We caught up with Boecherer about his Oceanside race, his racing strategy and his plans for 2013.
Triathlete.com: At Oceanside last weekend, you had a big advantage going into T2 and held on for third place. How do you think the race went for you?
Andi Boecherer: I felt great in the water, so despite some navigational problems I exited the water just 30 seconds behind Potts. On the bike I was able to close the gap very quickly. Following Sebastian Kienle’s wise race advice (“you don’t get drafting penalties in the front”), I moved past the group. To my surprise I was able to open a gap on the group immediately and by then I just tried to maintain a good pace. As I race without a power meter and [I] did not get any splits, I relied on racing by feel. Looking at the splits afterward I was able to put time into the big chase group consistently through the whole bike. Getting off the bike I felt very good and I was very happy with the size of my lead. After about 3K I realized I was getting blisters because I had sand/dirt under my feet. I knew I would suffer through the second part of the run as I did only very little running after I dropped out of Abu Dhabi with a strained glute. So at the end I had too many ups and downs to win, but I was very happy to hold off a hard chasing Ronnie Schildknecht.
Triathlete.com: Since cycling is your strength, do you enjoy riding from the front? Will you use this as a strategy going forward?
Boecherer: Of course I love riding from the front, but the nice thing in triathlon is that you can use your bike power either for a fast bike or a strong run. So sometimes bike and run splits don’t mirror your real power in a pure discipline.
Triathlete.com: Where does your cycling strength come from? Do you have a background in cycling?
Boecherer: I started as a kid with mountain biking, but did not race. Where I live it is very popular to go everywhere by bike: to school, to do grocery shopping, etc. That’s why I think there are so many strong European bike riders in triathlon.
Triathlete.com: You had a quieter year in 2012. Can you tell us about last season?
Boecherer: After a solid fourth in Abu Dhabi I dropped out of Ironman South Africa. I wanted to secure my Kona slot early so I entered Ironman Lanzarote four weeks later and got injured. After recovery I raced too early and got injured again. So finally in August I was able to race Ironman Sweden to validate. Finally back on track I won Ironman 70.3 Cozumel but had bad race luck in Kona to finish 21st.
Triathlete.com: Do you work with a coach?
Boecherer: Lubos Bilek is my coach for the fourth season. He coaches Sebastian Kienle and Svenja Bazlen (an Olympian, now a 70.3 athlete) as well.
Triathlete.com: What have you learned from racing in Kona? What does it take to be successful there?
Boecherer: You have to be both mentally and physically fresh, so I limit my distance racing throughout the summer season. And you have to know your weaknesses and work on them. And cracking the top-10 was definitely a big confidence booster.
Triathlete.com: Despite several top finishes, you’re still somewhat under the radar. Do you thrive on that?
Boecherer: Racing-wise it is easier, but off course you need to produce some attention for your sponsors, although I prefer to let my racing do the talking.
Triathlete.com: We read that you’ve spent time with Jordan Rapp and his family—what have you learned from Jordan?
Boecherer: This time we did not speak about triathlon at all, we just enjoyed some downtime with our families. But after the race in Abu Dhabi 2010 I was sitting in a beach café with my family and was quite frustrated after doing a lot of work on the bike and getting dropped on the run. He spotted me and told me to keep working and I will get my wins eventually. I was so impressed and inspired by his spontaneous help. And true enough I had my breakthrough season in 2011.
Triathlete.com: What do you think of fellow German Sebastian Kienle’s recent success?
Boecherer: He is a longtime friend of mine and a great training partner. It is fantastic to see how his hard work paid off and of course it is good for me to see our coach’s ideas work out well.
Triathlete.com: How do you balance the need to earn points toward your KPR with the desire to compete in other races?
Boecherer: That is a very difficult issue as I want to go as fresh as possible into Kona. And it is difficult to earn enough points by racing 70.3’s as there are only P500 races but one before the first Kona tickets are awarded by end of July. But we are happy to have the Ironman Euro Championship in Frankfurt.
Triathlete.com: Any new sponsors for 2013?
Boecherer: I am happy to be continuing great partnerships from 2012 including Felt Bicycles, Biestmilch, New Balance, Iron Vital, Sailfish Wetsuits, Adidas Eyewear and TorHans.
Triathlete.com: What are your plans for the 2013 season?
Boecherer: I am back in Germany and I will mainly focus on the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt as this is, besides Kona, the most important race in German triathlon. Maybe I will race another 70.3 for points and/or preparation. Then it is all about Kona again!