Winning Rides of Vegas 70.3 Worlds

 Sep 11, 2011 article & images by Nick Salazar

Crowie showed up on a de-branded Cervelo, his sponsor Orbea was nowhere in sight.

Double-down time in Las Vegas! On the morning before Interbike, Ironman held its 70.3 World Championship race in the outskirts of the city. After a whirlwind race over some challenging desert terrain, Craig Alexander proved he's on great form, and dark horse Melissa Rollison took a huge win after Julie Dibens faded on the run. There are a few things going on that are interesting from an equipment perspective. Deconstructing a couple photos from the winners' rigs shows off much about their particular equipment and racing choices.

Most interesting was the fact that men's winner Craig Alexander, who's been with Orbea for several years, showed up with a de-branded Cervelo P4 instead. The Aussie is obviously experimenting with faster equipment after losing Kona last year by a relatively narrow margin, on an arguably slow bike with a slow helmet. This year, he's on one of the fastest bikes around, with a fast helmet, and some very clean cable routing.

Alexander put together a fantastic race, sticking with all the major players on the bike, and was the only racer who could catch up to (and best) uber-biker Chris Lieto. Crowie's hydration setup was similarly smart: just a single BTA botle on his bars, and one round cage on his downtube. No nasty hardware hitting the wind. Everywhere on this bike, smart decicions are being made. The kind of decisions that can save a lot of time when you add them all up. Taken together, it can only mean one thing: Craig is dead serious about reclaiming his Kona title.

Melissa Takes Charge

On the women's side, Melissa Rollison charged to a stunning victory after Julie Dibens, who had been leading the race from the gun, suddenly faded on the run. Rollison unleashed her run, taking the lead from Dibens and never giving it up. In sharp contrast to Crowie's bike, hers is a little more old school - it's a decidedly previous-generation Avanti.

Avanti IS coming out with a new rig, called the Project Evo 2, and it looks awesome - but Rollison wasn't on one. She was riding one of their older frames, not even listed on their site anymore. And it looks like she's riding a 650c bike, meaning she can't take advantage of the latest generation of wheels - she's on Zipp's last-gen 650 hoops, which don't yet come in Firecrest.

Moreover, her bike wasn't nearly as svelte as her Aussie counterpart on the men's side. Her Avanti was littered with gels taped to the top tube, and an ugly (in my opinion) front brake setup, but was otherwise relatively clean. Ultimately though, Rollison didn't win this race on the bike. She won it with a blistering run that left all the other girls in the dust.

Check out the full gallery below for more detailed commentary on specific gear.

  • Craig Alexander proved he's serious about aerodynamics, riding a Cervelo P4 with Shimano's slick Pro Missile Evo bars and an internally-routed Di2 group.
  • Alexander's Shimano Pro Missile EVO TT bar-stem combo is very clean and has great ergonomics with he Di2 drivetrai.  Crowie is even running a BTA bottle on top for course nutrition.  Perfect.
  • Crowie has tested a couple different aero helmets, including the Lazer, but rode a Giro Advantage 2 here.
  • The front end is very clean, but could be made a little faster by replacing that Dura-Ace front brake with a center-pull model.
  • Melissa Rollison took the 70.3 World Championships aboard her old Avanti. I'm interested to see their new Project Evo 2.
  • Melissa is on a SRAM RED rig, with a Zipp 404-808 combo, which I think are 650's.
  • Rollison rides the Rudy Project wingspan, but it's sticking up quite a bit when she looks down.
  • A bunch of gels taped to the top tube? Not my favorite, but it worked for Rollison.  Andy Potts does this too.
  • Rollins rides S-bend extensions, and grips them at the very end for a better ergonomics.
  • And last but not least, one quick shot of Chris Lieto's bike.  Lieto built up a huge lead during his ride that only Craig Alexander could erase. His bike is set up more or less identically to his 2010 Kona rig.  Except, now he's using Bontrager's D3 50mm front, instead of the 90mm he usually rides.

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