Lionel’s Kona Changes

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENT -


“I racked my bike next to [Jan] Fro­deno and I thought, Holy crap – that bike is op­ti­mized, that po­si­tion is op­ti­mized. Noth­ing is left to chance. Ev­ery ‘free watt’ has been taken,” Lionel San­ders said. “I’ve had peo­ple mes­sage me ev­ery year telling me I should be mak­ing all kinds of changes on the bike to im­prove aero­dy­nam­i­cally. I’ve never done any­thing be­cause I was fol­low­ing the ap­proach of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

That race in Ocean­side, where Fro­deno won in im­pres­sive fash­ion, served as a wake up call for San­ders. In fact, Fro­deno might come to re­gret hav­ing shown his hand so early in the year – the Cana­dian re­turned from Ocean­side de­ter­mined to make changes that would dra­mat­i­cally im­prove his chances in Kona this year.

“I’ve never even been to the wind tun­nel,” San­ders said, in con­trast to Fro­deno who has spent lots of hours di­al­ing in his equip­ment and po­si­tion at var­i­ous wind tun­nels. “I just make all this crap up. I’ve given no thought, for in­stance, to bar choice. Or crank choice. Or pedal choice. Where you po­si­tion things. Your po­si­tion in the first place. I’ve given no thought to this stuff. The days of that are over. When you’re go­ing against guys who will con­trol ev­ery piece of the puzzle – you can’t af­ford not to con­trol things.”

As soon as he got home, San­ders im­me­di­ately took apart his wife Erin’s bike and started to build that up as a new race ma­chine. The smaller Garneau Gen­nix TR1 frame al­lowed him to get into a lower po­si­tion and en­abled him to use a new TriRig Alpha X han­dle­bar to get him­self into a more aero­dy­namic po­si­tion. San­ders also changed ped­als, opt­ing to use the same Speed­play ped­als he saw on Fro­deno’s bike in Ocean­side. Hy­dra­tion comes in the form of X-Lab’s Tor­pedo wa­ter bot­tle on his han­dle­bars, and he also uses the X-Lab Aero Pouch 300 around his seat-mounted rear wa­ter bot­tle, where he also stores tubes and a C02 car­tridge. (San­ders fixed a flat last year at the ITU World Long Dis­tance Cham­pi­onship in Pen­tic­ton and was still able to win the race – a les­son to all those who don’t feel they need or should take a spare with them while rac­ing.)

Those ini­tial changes cer­tainly seemed to help. Al­ways one of the strong­est riders in any event, San­ders blasted through the bike course to take wins at the Iron­man 70.3 North Amer­i­can Cham­pi­onship in St. Ge­orge, Utah, and did the same for his wins at the Chal­lenge Cham­pi­onship in Samorin and Iron­man 70.3 Mont-Trem­blant.

San­ders is plan­ning on re­fin­ing his po­si­tion and equip­ment even more head­ing into his race at Iron­man Mont-Trem­blant and the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship, so look for an even speed­ier set up on the Big Is­land in Oc­to­ber.—KM

ABOVE Lionel San­der’s bike setup

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