6 Oct 2017
Ironman World Championship Preview – Who To Watch At Kona
On October 14th, five Vision professional triathletes will take on the pinnacle of the Ironman calendar – the legendary World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, known for its gruelling conditions, iconic vistas and Ironman heritage; it was here that it all began over 40 years ago. Competition for the 41st edition is looking tougher than ever as a 99-strong pro field take on a 140.6-mile journey that tests body, mind and bike.
ONES TO WATCH – WOMEN’S RACE
Carrie Lester from Australia has had a fantastic season, taking the women’s title at Ironman France, increasing her overall iron distance wins to six.
“Winning an Ironman is becoming more difficult,” she says. “France was a goal we set at the start of 2017 – it was a great achievement.”
After her 10th place at Kona last year, Lester’s looking for a top 10 at this year’s edition, which takes place along the Kona coast, with black lava rock dominating the landscape and athletes battling it out in gusty winds and searing heat – and she says she’s ready for the conditions. “I feel confident and comfortable with my Trimax Carbon SI Aero Bars and Vision wheels,” she says.
“At Kona last year I raced with 40mm on the front and a 55mm rear wheel, but this year I’m racing with 55mm on the front and rear.”
While Lester’s looking for her best performance, she’s staying cool about it: “I really want to have the race I know I’m capable of – if I do that, I know I can improve on 10th place. But my challenge is staying focussed on myself and my race preparation – not putting expectations on myself about how the day unfolds.”
Meanwhile, Vision athlete Michelle Vesterby has the podium in her sights at this year’s World Championship. Vesterby, from Denmark, won Ironman Copenhagen in August, riding her way to victory with a sub-five hour bike split on her Vision Metron 81 SL Disc wheels.
“They’re very stiff and I feel like I’m moving forward,” she says. “I like the response. I know that they’re made with love!” With Kona’s constant breeze, aerodynamics is key. “I try to improve my bike fit during the year so that I’m as aero as possible,” she says.
Vesterby will be using Vision’s DS1 drink system which, with a super aero profile, fits to the head unit for easy hydration and, with searing temperatures of up to 100°F (38°C), once riders hit the lava fields, getting their hydration right is critical.
“I make a hydration plan before the race and stick to it.” She says. With her bike set-up ready for victory, the rest is down to what happens on the day. “I can be aero, but I still need to be able to push! Personally, I think it’s 80% mental.”
Vesterby is one of the most consistent performers on the Hawaiian course. Hailed by Ironman as one of the A-list headlining the women’s group this year, her competition includes Daniela Ryf who aims to return to defend her title.
WHO TO WATCH IN THE MEN’S FIELD
Another athlete looking for superior aerodynamics to aid his performance on the windy course is Terenzo Bozzone, 70.3 World Champion from New Zealand.
“Everything in my set-up is revolved around aerodynamics,” he says. “I’ve always been big on decreasing drag and rolling resistance. My Metron 81 SL wheels are super-aero, they feel stable. Rolling with the wind saves energy and is safer.”
Racing alongside Bozzone is Alessandro Degasperi, known to fans as ‘Dega’ who, with 15 years of triathlon podiums and a win at Lanzarote behind him, is back at Kona for his second year in a row.
This year’s Ironman 70.3 Staffordshire winner Giulio Molinari from Italy is, at 29, the second youngest in the pro field. “It’s my first time at Kona,” he says.
“I’ve had a program designed specifically for the temperature and humidity, and the bike’s aerodynamics is also crucial in these conditions. My Vision wheels are very rigid and aerodynamic, perfect for Ironman races. Moreover, they look really impressive!” he says.
The men’s field will all have their eyes on last year’s winner, Jan Frodeno.
Vision would like to wish all the athletes luck in this year’s race which, thanks to the incredible determination and dedication across the professional and age group field alike, is set to be spectacular.
HOW TO WATCH
Watch the World Ironman Championship on October 14. Details are available on the Ironman website.