Triathlon Magazine Canada
SANDERS IS MAKING HEADWAY IN THE AERODYNAMIC FRONT
at the Milton Velodrome. Riding a modified Speedmax frame with HED disc wheels, a 61-tooth front chain ring and a 13-tooth rear cog, Sanders shattered the old record by almost three km, riding 51.30 km in one hour of riding. His average cadence was less than 90, a marked difference to the higher cadence cyclists typically use for such attempts. The record proved that Sanders was making headway in the aerodynamic front.
There’s more to go, though. At the Triathlon Battle Royale Sanders appeared to have pushed more watts than Frodeno, but still rode five minutes slower. Sanders’ Strava records up Mount Lemmon – he’s traded the fastest time up the long climb in Arizona with rival Sam Long – prove that he’s a powerhouse on the bike. Can he dial in a bit more aerodynamic efficiency to get even more from that part of the race?
Much more of a challenge, though, for Sanders appears to be nutrition issues during his full-distance races.
Coeur d’Alene wasn’t the first time he’s struggled on the run in his full-distance efforts. Since his amazing 2017 performance, where Lange had to set a new run course record to catch the Canadian, Sanders has struggled in Kona – in
2019 he ran a 3:13:42 marathon to finish 22nd, and in 2018 he ran a 3:15:26 marathon to finish 30th. While most of us mortal beings would be thrilled to run that fast on the Big Island in Hawaii, when you’re Lionel Sanders and trying to win a world championship, only a run in the 2:40s will do. He’s also had tough runs at Ironman Mont-Tremblant, too, giving up almost 11 minutes to Cody Beals after leading off the bike in 2019, and finishing 14 minutes behind Beals in
2018. Even though he finished well behind Frodeno at the one-on-one race in Germany,the upside was that Sanders was able to run the entire marathon.
That will set Sanders up nicely for his next full-distance race in Copenhagen, where he’ll have one last chance to qualify for Kona this year. Sanders has proven that he’s
in spectacular shape in 2021 – his amazing sprint at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George saw him take the title over rival Long, but a few months later Long would take the win in Coeur d’Alene. Sanders came back from that tough day to set a PB just three weeks later. With some rest we’ll hopefully see him nail a spot to Kona. There’s another upside to competing in three full-distance efforts before the big show on the Big Island, too – Sanders will have really dialed in his nutrition plan.
Sanders is hardly alone when it comes to struggles in Kona before finally figuring things out. American Mark Allen, who would go on to take six world championship titles, was routinely “schooled” by rival Dave Scott until his breakthrough day in 1989 at the race still referred to as the “Iron War.” After struggling to the line six times, he put together the race of a lifetime to run away from Scott and begin a dominating run in Kona where he won six times between 1989 and 1995.—KM