Lance Arm­strong didn’t take credit for say­ing it, but it seemed most ap­pro­pri­ate com­ing from his lips when he made his brief jaunt into the triathlon world a few years ago: “You bike for show and run for dough.”

He was re­fer­ring to the feel­ing in the sport that, while some ath­letes would of­ten bike their way to huge leads head­ing into T2, it was the run where races were re­ally de­cided. While I’m not ready to ar­gue that be­ing able to run well isn’t a crit­i­cal com­po­nent to triathlon suc­cess, I am ready to say that en­hanced bike skills are be­com­ing more and more im­por­tant to triathlon suc­cess.

What makes me say that? Well, just look at the cur­rent crop of top com­peti­tors in all three dis­ci­plines of the sport. When it comes to ITU rac­ing in 2017, Flora Duffy has reigned supreme on the women’s side of things. Duffy spent much of the win­ter work­ing on her run­ning (which led to an in­jury that laid her up for the first two World Triathlon Se­ries events), but her dom­i­nant bike leg re­mains her killer weapon. She used it to per­fec­tion to win the Grand Fi­nal in Cozumel last Septem­ber and has con­tin­ued to use a killer bike leg as the means to the top of the podium in 2017.

While we don’t see it as of­ten on the men’s side of the ITU race scene, Alistair and Jonathan Brown­lee showed us in Leeds that the same strat­egy can cer­tainly work. The two rode away from the rest of the men’s field and then held them off on the run to take the ti­tle. It prob­a­bly doesn’t hurt that Alistair has cho­sen to fo­cus on longerdis­tance races this year, which would lend it­self to that sort of a strat­egy.

Speak­ing of longer-dis­tance races, when you look at 70.3 rac­ing the dom­i­nant play­ers are also fright­en­ingly fast on the bike. Holly Lawrence hasn’t lost a mid­dle-dis­tance race in over a year thanks to a stel­lar bike split. The best ex­am­ple of just how fast the best ath­letes are cy­cling over 90 km th­ese days, though, came at the Chal­lenge Cham­pi­onship.

“I thought it was two mo­tor­cy­cles go­ing by me,” Michael Rael­ert said of Lionel San­ders and Se­bas­tian Kienle when they passed him on the pan­cake flat course in Samorin, Slo­vakia. “I didn’t think you could make a bike move that fast.”

Here’s what’s crazy about that com­ment – it’s com­ing from a two-time Iron­man 70.3 world cham­pion.

Kienle con­tin­ued that same su­per-fast bike rou­tine at the Iron­man Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship, rid­ing a 4:02 bike split

BE­LOW Lionel San­ders on the bike at The Cham­pi­onship 2017 with Se­bas­tian Kienle hot on his tail

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