The past year has been an exciting year for the triathlon community. From a competition perspective we saw new champions in both Vegas and Kona. Not to mention a thrilling finish to the women’s event at the Olympics where the finish came down to hundredths of a second. One also can’t ignore the excitement resulting from Lance’s return to the transition area and his subsequent departure.
From a technology perspective, we are continuing to see rapid innovation. We’ve seen the frame manufacturers come up with new and exciting takes on a true triathlon bike. Multiple manufacturers are now coming up with frame designs that completely ignore the guidance of the UCI. Suppliers are also crafting new takes on classic technologies from groupsets to water bottles that will have an impact on how we continue our push. Finally this year we saw the rise of a number of startups that are having an impact on the community. Companies such as TriRig and Clean Bottle have stepped up and started to make a huge impact over the past year. Below is a list of what we at Aerogeeks hope to see over the next year. Some of these things we know are coming and some we are just crossing our fingers for.
1. Continued Innovation in Frame Design
Over the past two years we have seen a number of companies bring out true triathletes’ bikes. Specialized, Cervelo, and Quintana Roo all now have frames that are UCI illegal (well the P5 frame is legal but its tri specfic fork is not) but look to make a huge impact in the sport. Looking forward, we hope to see more of this. TJ Tollakson’s DiMond brand looks to bring back the old Zipp 2001, and other manufacturers are also sure to continue looking to the past to help craft new ideas for the future. At AG, one of the things we would like to see is a combination of the removal of the seat tube combined with the internal bladder concept of the SHIV.
2. Aero Brakes that Actually Stop You
With the P5 we saw the introduction of hydraulic brakes on TT bikes. And TriRig’s Omega brought a working aero brake. To top it off, one of the industry’s worst kept secrets is SRAMs work on hydraulic disk brakes. For 2013 we are looking to see these concepts expanded on and brought to the general public. Whether it’s simply hydraulic rim brakes or an aerodynamic take on disc brakes, we would like to see this on TT bikes sooner rather than later. TT bikes are already notorious for bad brakes. Not to mention the fact that our hands are typically about 6 inches away from the brake levers. Both inevitably lead to dangerous situations. For 2013 we hope to see a marriage of these 2012 technologies at an age grouper level.
3. Power Meters for the Masses (at a price we can afford)
Another year goes by and again we are left without the Vector. Many of us thought this would be the first easy to install and reasonably priced power meter for the masses. But fear not, help is on the way. At Eurobike 2012 Rotor showed off its new line of power meters and 2013 SRAM Red has a new Quarag power meter as well. Even more exciting was Stages Cycling’s announcement at Interbike regarding a sub $1,000 crank-based power meter (here). With Stages entry into the market we hope to see both more innovation as well as a rapidly descending price point. We here at Aerogeeks do not see a reason why sub $500 power meters aren’t within sight for mass production. Over the next 1-2 years we expect that to become a reality.
4. Stronger Anti-Doping Controls at the Pro and Age Group Levels
No this is not more commentary on Lance’s return to the peloton, though obviously that plays here, instead this is a more general call for better and stronger anti-doping controls throughout the transition area. 2012 will be remembered by many as the year of doping (or anti-doping) as the USADA brought out new evidence about the US Postal team in the late 90’s. However there were other events at a much smaller level that will have the greatest impact on our sport. In May at the Gran Fondo New York, 10 ten age group level athletes were tested and 2 of them showed signs of EPO use (http://www.slowtwitch.com/Opinion/Opinion_Age_Group_Doping_Control_3187.html). Then in October, Kevin Moats (58 years old) received a one-year ban for testing positive for testosterone (http://www.slowtwitch.com/News/Kevin_Moats_Banned_for_Doping_3172.html).
Obviously PEDs are present in the peloton and in transition and pleading ignorance won’t make this issue go away. It is time for USAT and the WTC to get serious about age group testing. There is no reason why the top 3 age group finishers in any Kona or Vegas qualifier cannot be tested for PEDs post-race. For the ridiculous cost of entry into any event, event coordinators should be able to find the money to pay for the tests necessary to prevent and discourage these types of activities. More to the point, with the fallout of the Armstrong case, all athletic organizational bodies should be working together to prevent these types of activities from occurring again. Ulrich Fluhme, the CEO of Gran Fondo New York said “The primary goal of age group testing is not catching the cheaters. It is about deterring dopers from competing at our events. It’s about making that 9pm doorbell ring uncomfortable for a doper. Don’t let the few dopers take away our passion for a healthy amateur competition.” As a mid-pack age grouper, I want to know that the people who beat me did so because they were better than me and trained harder than me. Never do I want to have to worry that they had an advantage through modern medicine.
5. Non Draft Legal Racing at the Olympics
This may be a long way off or may never even happen, but our final hope is to see TT bikes in transition in Rio or maybe a little farther off in 2020. I won’t deny how exciting it was to watch Spirig beat Nordén at the last second, but the races didn’t really inspire me. The majority of triathletes waking up at 4AM on weekend mornings are competing in non-draft events with TT bikes. When we go out to watch Kona, Vegas, or even our local sprint events, we are inspired by those around us doing what we love. Unfortunately, during the Olympics, I could not fully relate. I know it may be asking a great deal, but having an Olympic 70.3 would make for a great race. While not the length of our premier event (IronMan) it would certainly show the world how exciting a four-hour race can be.