LEE PIERCY retained his ITU Duathlon World Championship in Spain over the weekend though, in his view, competing at only ‘80 per cent' capacity.
Piercy was one of more than 1,400 athletes from 30 countries who lined up in Pontevedra, claiming victory in the 40-44 age category of the 10krun/40kcycle/5krun format.
He finished in 1hr 58min 47sec, almost three minutes and more clear of a trio of home grown rivals led by Luis Alberto Paredes Coya.
Piercy, who works for Intel in Swindon and is a regular at the Corinium time trials on his Performance Cycles-supplied bike, is an athlete reborn.
Having travelled the globe to get to the bottom of his chronic back problems, he found the solution when visiting six-time Ironman world champion Dave Scott in Colorado.
“I wasted two and half years failing to get an accurate diagnosis from a variety of experts,” said Piercy.
“But what Dave and his team came up with was bang on the money – and I have made massive improvement since seeing him.
“It has meant changing my cycling technique after doing it one way for the last 20 years, but it has been worth it. And I have since had Dave’s diagnosis validated back here in the UK.
“I was probably only 50 per cent when winning the world title in Ottawa in 2013 and I felt I was still only at 80 per cent capacity in Spain. But having sorted out my back trouble I am so excited about 2015 and I feel I can really push on now.”
Piercy had been competing only sparingly in the build-up to Pontevedra, winning duathlons in Cambridge and Castle Combe, but he felt in good physical trim only for his body to play one final trick.
“I picked up a viral infection the weekend prior to Spain,” he said. “I was quite sick and in two minds whether to travel.
“On Monday I was quite ill, I flew out on Wednesday and it had cleared up on Friday, at which point I thought I was out of the woods.
“But whether it was nerves or something else, I got less than one hour’s sleep on the last two nights before the race. Physically I was in good shape and I was probably the pre-race favourite, but mentally I was not quite there and I had fairly low expectations.
“Probably due to the sleep deprivation, I made a catastrophic error on the transition from the run – I could not find my bike!
“And when I did locate it I set off down the wrong lane which meant I had to stop and go back. I must have lost a minute and a half which might have cost me the race.”
That was not the case as even an under-par Piercy was too strong for his rivals.
“I can now look forward to the European Duathlon Championships in Austria in August – an event I have won before – and I intend to do a bit more racing with the Corinium Cycling Club in the build-up,” said Lee.
“Now the back trouble is in the past, I intend to have a go at some Powerman events – the 60km bike ride was just something I could not manage before.”
But most of all, Piercy has his eye on the Duathlon World Championship treble in Adelaide next year.
“And then it would be some achievement to try to win that event five years in a row.”