Hanka Kupfernagel is the reigning time trial World Champion. Her whole year was focused on repeating her performance at the Olympic Games in Beijing, but extended health problems have brought turmoil to her plans. Cyclingnews' Bjorn Haake discovered that once healed she had no time to lose.
Germany's Hanka Kupfernagel flew off to China one week before one of the most important races of her life. She had packed four – two time trial and two road – bikes, equipment and a mixed bag of feelings. Kupfernagel was worried about her shortened preparation on the one hand, but drawing confidence from her uncountable wins in the past with the other.
Kupfernagel and her coach/partner Mike Kluge had drawn up the plan for the Olympic season last winter. "We basically took the 2007 plan and shifted it up by a month and a half," Kluge explained.
A plan is only as good as its execution, as Kupfernagel learned when health issues started to occur after Flèche Wallonne. "Flèche is a really hard race and when you are strained you are very susceptible to viruses," she said. "I got sick a few days after the race."
Kupfernagel had caught a bug which was refusing to go away. She lost five weeks in total, with bronchitis and a sinus infection keeping her off the planned schedule.
The illness didn't only affect her training program, but prevented the rider from qualifying for the Olympic cross country mountain biking event. "I had to cancel the mountain bike races in the spring so I couldn't qualify," she said.
Read the full interview.