Pro Bike Setup at the Ironman 70.3 St. George North American Championship

05/03/2021

 

Top pros share what gears, wheels, and nutrition plans they used this year at the Ironman 70.3 St. George

 

After a long hiatus from racing, triathlon is officially back in action after this weekend’s exciting Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah. Top long-distance professionals and amateurs alike hit the start line and faced blazing temps, stiff competition, and rugged terrain to unofficially kick off the triathlon season. 

 

Ironman 70.3 St. George is known for its dynamic bike course with the signature climb through Snow Canyon State Park. With the challenging terrain and rolling bike course, we checked in with Shimano pros on their bike setup, gearing selection, and nutrition and hydration plan for tackling the southern Utah course.

 

 

Shimano: What gearing did you use at Ironman 70.3 St. George? How does the hilly course of St. George affect your gearing choice?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanni (Seymour) Metzler: 

55/39t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

When I race on hilly courses, I like to have a good range of gearing. I have the 55-tooth chainring for the descent whilst I still have the 39-tooth inner ring to climb on the hillier sections. I typically use an 11-25t cassette, but I chose the 11-28t cassette for this course as it is ideal to have an extra gear for the last mile of Snow Canyon, where the grade is the highest.

                 

Jeanni Seymour Metzler at IRONMAN St. George Utah 2021
PRO Triathlete Matt Hanson at IRONMAN st. George Utah

 

 

 

 

Matt Hanson: 

55/42t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

For flat races, I might opt for an 11-25t cassette instead, depending on the wind situation.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Appleton: 

55/42t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

St. George is a hilly bike course, but most of the climbs aren't super steep. I usually use an 11-25t cassette for flatter races, but I opted for the three extra teeth at the back for St George. I also like the 55t front chainring for the fast descent in the last 10 miles of the race. I can hold aero and keep my cadence steady with that gear choice. 

PRO Triathlete Sam Appleton at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George Utah
Pro Triathlete Jackie Hering at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George Utah 2021

 

 

Jackie Hering: 

52/36t chainring and 11-28t cassette

Since I train on plenty of hills, I didn’t need to change my gearing for St. George. 

 

 

Andre Lopes:

54/39t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

St. George is a course that you need a bigger chainring for the downhills but also a bigger cassette for the Snow Canyon climb at the end of the bike course.

PRo Triathlete Andre Lopes at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George Utah
PRO Triathlete Chris Leiferman at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George Utah

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Leiferman: 

55/42t chainrings and 11-25t cassette

For hilly courses, I always want a big tooth front ring. You never want to be spinning out going downhill when your competition is putting power to the pedals pulling away from you. 

 

 

Eric Lagerstrom: 

54/39t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

I definitely wanted to have a small gear (39-28) for the top of the Snow Canyon climb, but having the 54-11 big gear for coming down all the hills on course was essential as well.

PRO Triathlete Eric Lagerstrom at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George 2021
PRO triathlete Justin Metzler at IRONMAN 70.3 St. george

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Metzler: 

58/46t chainrings and 11-28t cassette

Typically, I would run an 11-25t cassette, and I even planned on that until pre-riding the St. George course last week. I brought along an 11-28t cassette just in case, and given the difficult grade in the final 1-mile on Snow Canyon, I ended up using the 46/28 gear combination for most of that! 

 

Shimano: What wheel rim depth did you use, and how much was your choice impacted by the variable wind conditions at St. George? 

 

 

Jeanni (Seymour) Metzler: 

Front 60mm / Rear Disc

I almost always run a disc wheel as it is hands down the fastest wheel choice. My front wheel choice is often dependent on the wind conditions; if it is going to be extremely windy, I like to run a 40mm wheel, but in normal conditions, I would choose a 60mm front wheel.

Jeanni Metzler with hewr SHimano equipped bike
Sam Appleton with road bike

 

 

Sam Appleton:

Front 65mm / Rear Disc 

My disc is really light, so the weight penalty is very minimal, and I believe that carrying the tiny bit of extra weight up the Snow Canyon climb was worth it for all the faster sections that a disc is more beneficial. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andre Lopes:  

Front 50mm / Rear Disc 

My choice is impacted a bit by the wind. I prefer to have a smaller rim depth on the front wheel for faster speeds.

Andre Lopes IROMAN 70.3 Utah
Jackie Hering IROMAN UTAH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackie Hering:

Front 71mm / Rear 80mm

The wind can be a real issue. I get a lot of practice riding in windy conditions and am very comfortable on this wheel setup in the wind. For my size, I think a disc would have been a bit too much. 

 

Chris Leiferman:

Front 80mm / Rear Disc

I always run a disc in any condition, unless the racecourse doesn't allow it. The wind doesn't impact my choice much; there is one big descent [at St. George] that you have to be cautious of, but it is often a cross/tailwind that doesn’t bully you around too much. Of course, that doesn’t account for gusty winds that are unpredictable, and there’s not much you can do there. 

Chris Leiferman's bike
Eric Lagerstrom's bike

 

 

Eric Lagerstrom:

Front 60mm / Rear Disc 

I ran the disc for stability in the back, but I was also able to handle the 60mm front.

 

 

Justin Metzler:

Front 70mm / Rear Disc

I think a disc is the fastest regardless of wind or hills. The front wheel I rode is also quite stable in the crosswind despite being deep. Also, being 80kg/175lb, I don’t tend to fight with the wind as much as others!

Justin Metzler road bike

 

Shimano: Due to the high temperatures this weekend, were there any special hydration choices or considerations you made? 

 

file

 

 

Jeanni (Seymour) Metzler: 

I used a front aero hydration system with two smaller aero bottles in the frame.

 

 

Matt Hanson

The calories I take in always remain the same for 70.3s, but as the temps pick up, so does the fluid intake. Typically, I'll be completely self-sustaining for a 70.3. This weekend, I grabbed water from all the aid stations.

file
file

 

 

Sam Appleton

The race definitely heated up a little on the run, but we thankfully missed most of the really hot temperatures of the day. I added a little more sodium into my fluid that I took on the bike to ensure I limited my losses as much as possible. 

 

 

Jackie Hering

I generally race well in the heat and used my ‘normal’ nutrition/hydration plan. I grabbed a little water when I was thirsty and dumped plenty of water on my body to stay cool. 

file
file

 

 

 

Andre Lopes:  

No, I stuck to my regular hydration plan. I love the heat and I usually do well racing in it. 

 

 

 

Chris Leiferman

I used some extra electrolytes and planned on taking on more fluids than you would think. Taking advantage of each aid station was key. 

file
Shimano Triathlete Eric Lagerstrom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Lagerstrom

I did a little sodium pre-load the night before the race, which was a new thing for me. Otherwise, in-race nutrition was the same.

 

Justin Metzler

I aimed to consume a minimum of three 24oz bottles and then grabbed a fourth because of the heat. Given the pandemic, I have been mostly self-reliant in training when it comes to hydration with four bottles on my bike. Given the hills here and similar demand for fluid intake, I started with three bottles on my bike (one was a built-in hydration set up on my bike, the other two in aero frame bottles) and then grabbed one more on the course. 

file