Anton Palzer earned a reputation as one of the best ski mountaineers in the world and accomplished mountain runner, but in 2021 he decided to swap them for road cycling with new Red Bull TV documentary, Breaking the Cycle, charting his incredible switch.
German Palzer grew up in the mountains and wanted to climb them as quickly as possible, whether on foot or on his skis and the steeper the better as he went on to compete internationally.
In the new 45-minute documentary, Palzer looks back at moments when, aged 16, he was allowed to compete in the German Adult Championships with a special permit – and won by three minutes.
After three World Championship silver medals and one bronze in ski mountaineering, avid mountain biker Palzer decided to switch to two wheels but on the road instead with the BORA-hansgrohe team.
Road cycling takes athletes on gruelling rides through rain, hail and burning heat – sometimes on the same day – with the discomfort of peeled skin, aching muscles and countless other side effects.
Earlier this year, he said: “In ski-mountaineering, I took part in races to win them or to get good rankings. That has completely changed. I’m a ‘helper’ to the really good and successful cyclists.”
The transformation from ski mountaineer to professional cyclist takes its course at the team meeting at Lake Tegernsee, where “Breaking the Cycle” shows exclusive behind-the-scenes footage as well as from his race premiere in the BORA-hansgrohe jersey in April 2021.
He approached World Tour level first with the Tour of the Alps, then June 2021’s Tour de Suisse, where – wearing the bull helmet – he impresses fans and former time trial world champion Fabian Cancellara.
The 29-year-old revealed: “I want to tell the story of me and show everyone that anybody can achieve a lot in life if they are brave, fearless and work with determination. Especially during the scenes of my last World Cup race as a ski mountaineer, I had a few tears in my eyes.”
Hugely passionate about his new profession, he made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España – one of the toughest global races – in the summer of 2021 and impressed his team with his rapid progression.
Any normal professional cyclist plans a five-year preparation period for the likes of the star-studded Vuelta, Tour de France and Giro d’Italia races, however Palzer shrunk that down to mere months.
The highlight of the documentary is the Vuelta over 21 stages and 3,417km when he triumphs over the heat and bad luck from Burgos in the first week all the way to Santiago de Compostela at the end.
He explained: “It was the 21 hardest days of my life. When you get through this tour, it takes you to another level athletically. The motivation was higher than the pain, maybe also the own health.”
Team manager Ralph Denk added: “Toni is perhaps the only ski mountaineer who has moved into the World Tour without any detours. It was a certain risk for us, but in the end our joint success proves us right. As an absolute beginner as far as cycling is concerned, from the first race to the Vuelta in just five months, that’s actually hard to put into words.”
Watch Breaking the Cycle in full HERE.