Department of Sport

Sub7 challenge experience for veteran University of Nottingham cyclist

Alex Pritchard

On June the 5th, Olympic Triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee was scheduled to attempt to complete a long-distance triathlon in under seven hours and beat fellow Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt in the process. However, before the event Alistair had to withdraw due to injury and was replaced by Joe Skipper. In attempting to achieve the feat, Skipper was be joined in Brandenburg, Germany, by a long-time member of the #GreenandGold, Alex Pritchard, with Pritchard a cycling pacemaker alternate after the late change. Having completed an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology at the University, Alex is finalising his PhD at Nottingham and has begun his career in biotechnology. However, alongside his work commitments Alex was selected by Team Brownlee to help push Alistair (and subsequently Joe) ahead of Blummenfelt in the bike leg of this ambitious triathlon challenge. Alex has been an integral part of the University of Nottingham Cycling club over many years and put his experiences to the test for this historic feat. Unfortunately for Alex and the rest of his team, Kristian Blumenfelt took the tape first in an eye-watering 6:44:25.

Ahead of the challenge, before Alistair's withdrawal, we caught up with Alex to find out more about his involvement, as well as his time at the University of Nottingham.


Thank you for your time Alex. How did the opportunity to be a part of Team Brownlee come about?

My coach Jacob Tipper is the sports director for Team Brownlee. He has a pretty fast phone book, having lived and ridden on the same teams as a lot of strong riders. Team Brownlee realised the bulk of the time saving would come from the 180 km bike leg so needed some fast riders with team time trial experience. Unfortunately they weren’t available so I was asked to join the team!


What are your expectations for the Sub7 Challenge?

Our aim is to win overall, having Alistair be the first to go sub 7 hours. The expectation for the bulk of the pacers is to blow away the ‘Norwegian train’ on the bike leg. It’s not going to be an arm chair ride round for us, but we want to make the bike leg as easy as possible for Alistair.


Have you been able to train with and learn from your Sub7 teammates?

We were able to gather some test data in a trial session over the winter. Since then we haven’t trained as a team. A couple of the guys are based around Nottingham, I’m good friends with them and we train together a fair amount anyway. However, we have been able to at least learn from each other, everyone has a fair amount of experience and aerodynamics knowledge that has been shared.


How have you been balancing completing your PhD and work since then with your training?

So, I handed in my thesis just before Christmas and have been working for a biotech company since January whilst waiting for my viva and viva corrections from my internal supervisor. Since transferring from the PhD to the job world, my training hasn’t changed too much. I tend to do my training either early morning or in the evening during the week, with 2-3 key interval sessions and then fitting the volume in over the weekends. Sometimes it can be hard to find the balance with squeezing in a social life but sacrifices have to be made somewhere.


What has your experience been like as a student at the University of Nottingham?

I’ve been at UoN for 7 years (including my undergrad in Biotechnology) based at Sutton Bonington campus for both courses, it’s a quiet life there but the best decision I made was living near main campus. The courses I undertook were both really enjoyable and the people I’ve met along the way have been great.


We thank Alex for his dedication to the #GreenandGold over the past seven years! You can find out more about the Sub7 challenge here.

As well as a reputation for academic excellence, we have a history of sporting success and are passionate about supporting promising athletes during their time at the University of Nottingham. To find out more about our Sports Scholarship, please click here

Posted on Monday 6th June 2022

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