7 rules of aero

Being aero on the bike isn’t a trend or a theory, it is real and based on facts.

The more aero you get, while being comfortable and powerful, the faster you’ll go, period.

Tomorrow, the world’s best triathletes will race for glory in Kona. This is the climax of a year of physical, tactical and also technical preparation. All of these racers will ride with a different aero setup, trying to get as much free watts as possible.

As your season is probably nearing its end, this is a great time to start rethinking your aero for next year, to try different things in easy training sessions without risking injuries.

Here are Lionel Sanders’ 7 rules of aero to help you make improvements for your next triathlon:

1-      There is always room for improvement: My mantra is No limits. This applies to every aspect of the performance. Let’s start by assuming we never find the perfect aero position, and that trying new things will make you faster… or slow you down. Tri bikes like my Garneau Gennix TR1 were made to give a wide range of options for fitting, both on the handlebars and on the saddle. There is so much to learn and try, so enjoy this exciting process!

2-      Get low, but not too much: This summer, you probably saw Tour de France winner Chris Froome descending at full speed, sitting on the top tube and pedaling at the same time. You don’t need to get that low! :D Always consider the amount of power that you are still able to produce when you tweak your position. Make no sacrifices, look for a “win-win” situation. You can have low air drag and great power wattage together.

3-      Do not go out of your comfort zone: This sounds the opposite of what your coach tells you before a tough swim set or some hard running drills, but your aero position shouldn’t compromise your comfort on the bike. Of course you need to be comfortable on a 180 km bike ride during an IRONMAN, but also during the long hours of bike training. Finally, avoiding unnatural movements will help prevent injuries on the bike and during the run.

4-      You can’t be overdressed: Getting aero for a race is like getting ready for a big banquet where everyone will be well dressed. It is not the time to think “Is this suit is too nice or this tie is too fancy?” for the upcoming party. Everyone will be well dressed at the dinner and every racer is aero on the triathlon bike. That being said, there are a few seconds to gain every kilometer by wearing an aero helmet like my P-09 and an aero tri suit with low air-resistance fabrics like the M-2 on shoulders and arms. There are more free watts here, take it or leave it!

5-      You CAN be overdressed!: Well, we’re talking about the outside temperature this time, let’s say it can get really hot in races like Kona or in other warm areas of the world. Some aero fabrics are not the most breathable ones. It is important to have an option for the hot racing days. I have a suit with M-2 aero fabric on the shoulders, where it matters the most, but everything else is made of highly ventilated mesh. It helps to keep me cool and the racer fit cut of this tri suit does not compromise my aero gains. This suit is bike-specific for IRONMAN races and I take a few seconds to put running clothes on before the marathon. By the way, you will see my new running outfit pretty soon. Be ready for some old school swag!

6-      Rethink you stretching routine: Yes, cycling-oriented stretching is as valuable as the stretches you do to improve your run. Ask for exercises that will give you more flexibility at your upper body. This will ease your adaptation every time you tweak your position. You think stretching is boring? Find a good triathlon race on the internet and watch it while you stretch. Stay focused on your goals, surround yourself with motivation.

7-      Beware of the aero obsession: Don’t forget to train! You can’t win races by being aero. This sounds logic, but never forget that training hard, resting hard and eating well are the most important things. Then comes the aero aspect. Improving your aero is a continuous process. It is a performance-oriented journey, but don’t forget to have fun doing it. 

 Lionel Sanders will race his second IRONMAN World Championship on Saturday. Last year, he finished 14th as a rookie.

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