The winning rig - Craig Alexander's Specialized Shiv
Craig Alexander has gotten some flak recently for riding what was perceived as an inferior aerodynamic setup. People criticized his Orbea Ordu for being an older design, and speculated that it may have cost him the victory last year at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I have to say that it's hard to ignore the wind tunnel data. It suggests that given some changes to his setup, Crowie may have saved enough time to win the race, or at least improve on what became a 4th-place finish.
Of course, that's all just speculation. And anyway, it's all in the past. Because Crowie has a brand-spankin-new rig that is as fast as they come. He's on the all-new, 2012 Specialized Shiv, a ride born and bred for triathletes, with long-coursers explicitly in mind. Read my full report on the launch of this machine for a little more background.
Below is a video interview with Retul fitter Mat Steinmetz, who is also the High Performance Advisor to Craig Alexander. Mat is responsible for helping Craig on everything from his bike fit, to where to place his water bottles, to the size of chainrings he might be running. Mat gave me the low-down on Crowie's new rig, which is ready to do some serious damage on Saturday. Craig's Shiv essentially replicates his old bike's position, down to the millimeter, and slaps it onto a super advanced, ultra-slippery aero race machine.
Mostly, the bike is a very straightforward build with no crazy customizations. The one thing that's a bit special here is that the top cap on the headset has been removed to get Crowie low enough with the relatively high-stack EVO bars (which were dropped as low as they could go without slinging the extensions beneath the bar.
Crowie's Shiv is set up brilliantly - Mat recommended to Crowie one BTA bottle up front, and a supplementary cage, Lieto-style, in the back. I think that's a great idea. Those will be used to fill up the integrated bottle on the Shiv, which has a convenient straw system.
No fancy after-market products, no huge apparatus hanging out in the wind, just some zip ties, some standard cages, and a straw. Well, okay, the Specialized Fuelselage is pretty fancy. But the bike was built around it, and it's snazzy indeed.