The 2022 Ironman World Championship in Kona saw some very impressive breakout performances across both pro races. One of these performances stands out among the rest, though: Sam Laidlow’s bike performance, which shattered the previous record and set a new standard at 4:04:36. The blistering speed Laidlow held across the 180 km bike portion of the race meant he averaged just over 44km/h for the duration of the bike.
Laidlow blew Cameron Wurf’s 2018 bike record out of the water by over four minutes, and followed that up with a 2:44:39 marathon to finish second in Kona in 7:42:24. That time also shattered the old course record (7:51:13) set by Jan Frodeno in 2019
What gear did Laidlow wear and use to break the Kona bike course record? Here are a few key pieces of kit that probably helped him to his breakout performance in Kona:
The bike and wheels:
The French sportsman rode to a new course record on board a Trek Speed Concept SLR. Laidlow is sponsored by HED wheels and, in Kona, he utilized the company’s new Jet 180 rear wheel to maximum advantage (pictured above is Lionel Sanders’ wheel). Since rear disc wheels are not allowed on the course in Kona, Laidlow opted for one of the closest things to a disc wheel you can get, with an astonishing 180 mm deep rim. Laidlow is sponsored by Schwalbe tires, which were mounted to his deep dish HED wheels.
Dialing in the fit:
His position on the bike looked similar to many of his counterparts on the day, the vast majority of the fastest bike splits saw riders using a bike position that is growing in popularity. Laidlow said that he finally got a properly fitting frame just a few days before the race, which also allowed him to dial in a better position.
The tri suit that Laidlow wore to his runner-up finish in Kona (in his first race on the Big Island) made a huge difference for his bike performance, too. According to the company’s tests, his $500+ aerodynamic Fusion tri suit shaved a few minutes off his bike split thanks to the compression and speedy fabrics used in this suit that’s been optimised through extensive wind tunnel testing.
In between Laidlow’s forearms was the first of four hydration options on the bike, that also included an aerodynamic water bottle incorporated into the bike frame and two bottle cages mounted behind the seat.
Perhaps the biggest shocker (to my eyes, anyway) were Laidlow’s CompresSport white compression socks that he wore for the bike and run.
All these little tweaks combined for a record-setting day on the bike, which Laidlow backed up with a fantastic run to earn himself the second spot on the podium. Combined with his highest power output by 15 to 20 watts (Laidlow reported that he managed 315 watts for over four hours) Laidlow’s attention to detail enabled him to pull out the performance of his life and hold off no-less a race favourite that Olympic gold medalist Kristian Blummenfelt for his big day.
So, when it comes to dialing in your best performance, pay attention to all the little details. They do make a difference!
Sean Mackinnon is no stranger to fast time-trial performances – he won the bronze medal at the Pan Am Games time trial in 2015.