Galveston Gear: Digging Deeper
article & images by Nick Salazar
Apr 4, 2012
I'll admit that I'm very excited to see Lance Armstrong competing as a pro triathlete. Whether you're a Lance fan or not, his presence is like a shot in the arm to the sport. More people are paying attention to the sport, and that's good all around. While I was in Galveston, it was easy to find people who knew Lance was doing a tri there, and were genuinely interested in it, but these same people wouldn't know the difference between an aerobar and a seat post.
Of course, gear is what TriRig is all about. I obsess over it. And so I'm very interested in what all the athletes are doing with their rigs, especially Lance, who is paradoxically a newbie and a veteran at the same time. I decided to dip into my image archive from the race, and enlarge some of the details that many athletes are curious about - how are the riders hydrating? How are they taking nutrition? What particular gear quirks are showing up these days? This piece will present a small look at those topics, at least as they were represented at the Lonestar 70.3 in Galveston last weekend.
Up first, we'll be looking at a few details of Lance Armstrong's rig. We saw a replica of his bike earlier in the week, so this will focus on his race-day setup, and how he's fueling, etc. The TdF legend is known for his obsession with having the finest gear available, and he continues to ride some of the best equipment in the triathlon world.
Starting at the front end, we see Lance using a single-bend carbon extension with a roughly 30-degrees of rise. Lance has all his race nutrition stored here - a couple of gels taped to the extensions, and a small flask with what is probably a concentrated fluid mix that's velcroed onto his stem cover. Chris Lieto keeps an identical flask on his Speed Concept, and perhaps Lance took the cue from him on this one.
However, what's interesting is that Lance doesn't run a BTA bottle. He just had two standard bottle cages on the down tube and seat tube, and used them both for water only. That's funny, because Lance complained that he had hydration problems during the race. He didn't elaborate on that, but I speculate that one problem might be that he wasn't drinking frequently enough, and that's precisely one of the benefits that a BTA setup offers. Maybe if he set up something like a Speedfil A2 or a Torhans Aero20 he'd find some improvement. There are very few pros who aren't running some kind of aerobar-mounted hydration, and with good reason.
Oh yeah, and one more thing - you know the checkerboard pattern we noticed on his racing suit? It's actually black and white versions of the same flag icon that's on his disc wheel. Pretty slick.
Of course, Lance wasn't the only one racing in Texas. There were a few others out there at the time. Maybe you've heard of a guy named Tim O'Donnell? He's pretty good. And in fact, Tim has been at the pro tri game a little longer than Lance. So maybe we should take a look at his setup too.
Tim keeps things relatively simple: he has a couple gels taped to his top tube, a BTA bottle up front, and a reserve bottle on the down tube. For a small aero improvement, he could stick that down tube bottle behind the saddle, Lieto-style, but maybe he prefers the DT location for ergonomic reasons, or perhaps he's had bad experience with bottle launches.
Also of note is the Profile Design aerobar Tim is using on the Argon 18. Officially, you're not supposed to use anything on that bike except its integrated bar. But the stem clamp is round, so the only question is whether the clamping diameter is correct, or whether custom shims are necessary to make everything fit. In any event, Tim's bike seems to be holding up just fine.
Finally, we've hit the deep end. TJ Tollakson is known as a tinkerer. He's always doing something radical that draws attention, and his aerobar setup is this year's marquis example. It's the same general setup he's been riding for over a year, with the mantis-like high arms position. But where he used to have shin guards and jock cups to support his elbows, he now has a custom-molded one-piece solution that is much more elegant, and looks very comfortable as well. Perhaps the Iowa native has plans to sell them at some point in the future, and although I'm not planning to adopt his high-arms position any time soon, I can definitely appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit.
There are more photos and info in the gallery below. Thanks for reading!