Here we go again – the first of our 300 fps super slo-mo videos from Kona. Well the 2nd really – we put an early edit up on Xtri.com while still in Kona, but now that we are back at TTBikeFit HQ we will be churning out several more. This one features the first 12 pro men into T2 approaching the finish of the bike.
The conditions were certainly easier on the athletes this year than last year, not to mention much easier on us. Everything is relative of course – Kona is always hard. This year though the raging winds typically felt in the last 7 miles up to Hawi were largely absent, even for the age groupers. In some years these winds don’t show up until after the pros have come and gone. Age groupers did report strong headwinds from Waikoloa to the airport (approx mile 85-105). Not sure whether the pros experienced this as well but I am guessing they did. The heat was also not as bad as it often is – haze and then cloud cover kept things relatively hospitable.
That all said, we still saw quite a few blowups among the pros, and some slow marathons. Mark Allen is on record as saying that no one runs as fast as he and Dave Scott did because they bike so hard nowadays. Chris Legh mentioned to me before the race that the draft zone had been increased by two meters this year, and that he had found it to be enough to remove any drafting effect during training rides on the Queen K. It looks as if he was right as the mens’ pack blew apart on the way back with huge gaps between the first several riders. In past years you often had one bike specialist off the front, and then a few big groups of chasers. This could also explain the relatively slow marathons in the cooler than usual conditions. Uber-bikers Starykowicz, McKenzie and Kienle let it rip, and the run specialists had to make a decision as to how much time they could afford to give up versus pushing the limit on the bike. The decision was tougher this year as they apparently couldn’t depend on pack riding to help them stay in contention. Van Lierde seemed to find the sweet spot, as he ceded a bit of time on the bike to the front riders while staying well ahead of the run speedsters into T2. He was then able to pull off a decent, if not great marathon for the win.
There will be several more bike and run videos coming, including some with bike fit analysis. Until then, enjoy the first chapter: