Sometimes in life, doors open on new possibilities which could lead to a whole new world of adventure and change. Something which on paper seems like a terrifying prospect could bring exciting new opportunites.
The hardest part is always breaking the mould and taking a first leap into the unknown. This is exactly where Anton Palzer found himself the day he was offered a professional contract by Bora-Hansgrohe.
Palzer, who speaks fluent English, clearly demonstrates his passion and commitment to his new sporting career and life as a cyclist. The 29-year-old told Cycling Weekly that the last year has taught him multiple life lessons.
“Lesson one is never give up, especially when you start something new,” he said. “It’s always hard leaving your comfort zone I think and to leave behind the ‘normal’ things you do in your life. When you’re confident and when you’re bold in what you do it pays off.
“Also just never stop pedalling, something I guess you can apply to everything in life. The Tour of the Alps and Suisse was super hard but I just pushed through and kept going.
“Finally just stay patient with yourself, cycling is a strange world and there is so much to learn. If you take your time and don’t stress then it pays off.”
Earlier this week, Palzer, in collaboration with Red Bull and Eurosport, released a 45 minute documentary called ‘Breaking the Cycle’ depicting his transformation from elite skier to top level professional cyclist. Just over a year into his journey, Palzer reflected back on his transformation and admitted that there were times he doubted his initial decision to take a leap of faith.
“It’s been super tough for me, I have to admit that I wasn’t sure after the first season if cycling was the right thing for me,” he said.
Recognisable by his distinctive Red Bull helmet, also worn by the Belgian Wout Van Aert, Palzer arrived on the WorldTour in 2021 as a complete novice to the world of top level professional cycling. The 29-year-old German made his debut for Bora-Hansgrohe at last year’s Tour of the Alps on the back of a highly successful career in Ski-Mountaineering (Ski-Mo).
Currently racing at the Deutschland Tour, Palzer explained that his new film has been met with great positivity. The 29-year-old admitted that he’s felt overwhelmed by the messages he’s received in response to the piece.
The German said: “After the premiere of the film on television I received so many positive comments and great feedback from all kinds of people.” He added: “So many people have written to me saying ‘Hey! What a cool story and you’ve really inspired us’, it’s always super motivating when you get comments like that.”
When initially taking the step into cycling, Palzer went straight from the ski season into the chaos of professional racing. The 29-year old explained that in the first season he rode around 50 races, which left him in pieces.
“At the end of that first season I was just f****d,” he explained. “I’d never been that tired and it was clear it was going to take my body quite some time to adapt to this. The Tour of the Alps was just crazy and then I had the Vuelta.
“I learned so much in those three weeks on a Grand Tour. After a really good break last winter and a good start to this year I’d say I feel like a completely different rider and person to what I did back then.”
The ex-skier explained that there were times he was hanging on for dear life in the peloton. Working with his coaches, including Helmut Dollinger, and Bora-Hansgrohe manager Ralph Denk, enabled him to conquer his fear of crashing and keep moving forward. Palzer admitted that his transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed by other riders.
“A lot of other guys saw me riding last year and have come up to me and said how completely different I look,” he concluded. “Last year I was always hanging on and in last position in the peloton regularly.
“So many guys from other teams have congratulated me and said how good it is to see. I’m super motivated to keep going now and see where this takes me.”