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Lionel Sanders’s five best bike rides

Fast bike splits from the new holder of the Canadian one-hour record

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

After shattering the Canadian one hour record on Friday, we thought it might be fun to go back and look at some of the Windsor native’s best bike performances over the years.

Canadian one hour record

Hard not to dial this effort in as one of Sanders’s premier bike efforts. You can catch up on our recap of the one hour record here.

2016 Ironman Arizona

4:04:38

After a tough day in Kona, Sanders bounced back in style to set a new Ironman record with a 7:44:29 overall time. In addition to that blazing bike split that saw him average 44.21 kph, his swim time was 53:45 and he rounded out the day with a 2:42:31 marathon.

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Here’s how Sanders described the bike ride in his blog:

Out onto the bike, I knew I needed to be patient. My new training advisor and mentor David Tilbury-Davis advised me to “be patient, be wise, be ruthless.” I repeated this probably several hundred times in my head throughout the ride, as well as “an Ironman’s a long way.” I was holding about 320w through the first hour. It felt so easy that I thought perhaps my power meter was malfunctioning. My target power for the ride was 310-320w though and I vowed to stick to the plan. Despite it feeling easy, I backed off a little bit and let the average come down to about 316w by the end of the first 60km loop. By the halfway point of the bike the average was back up to 318w.

Around three hours it was starting to become a lot harder to hold the power. I realized then that my power meter was functioning properly, and I was very glad that I had not deviated from the plan. At around 3.5 hours I was really starting to hurt, and instead of killing myself to hold the power, I decided to drop it and ride closer to 270w. This was hard, but not so hard that I felt like I was burning matches. In the end, I averaged 315w, for a bike time just under 4 hours and 5 minutes.

Lionel Sanders at the 2107 Ironman World Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Ironman World Championship 2017

4:14:19

Sanders didn’t end up winning the race, nor did he even have the day’s fastest bike split, but his 4:14:19 would have set a new bike course record in Kona had Cameron Wurf not shattered Normann Stadler’s bike course record by a whopping five minutes. (Wurf went 4:12:54.)

According to TrainingPeaks, Sanders’s normalized power for the ride was 313 watts and he averaged 42.65 kph. He would follow that up with a 2:51:53 marathon, which wasn’t quite enough to hold off Patrick Lange, who took the win in a course record 8:01:40 to Sanders’s 8:04:07 finish time.

Ronde on Zwift 2020

In April Sanders took part in a UCI Esports world cup race, winning the race thanks to a spirited breakaway effort. The feat was especially impressive because the feature pro in the event was world cyclocross champion Mathieu van der Poel.

Sanders was part of a breakaway group, then pulled clear into the last climb, opening up the gap by pushing a whopping 10 watts/ kg for a short time, then continuing to pull away on the climb to open up a gap of over 20 seconds. He managed to hold off the riders sprinting behind him to the line thanks to what he believes is a “life-time best 5 minute power” of 534 watts.

Sanders’ time for the ride was 36.21 and he averaged an incredible 401 watts (5.5 w/kg).

Lionel Sanders. Photo: Talbot Cox.

Challenge Daytona 2019

1:14:54

While this is another time where Sanders didn’t post the day’s fastest ride – that went to Andrew Starykowicz – the Canadian was just a few seconds slower than the American and averaged over 48 kph for the 61 km course. (There is some debate over the actual length of the course – it’s advertised as 37.5 miles, but appears to be closer to 38 miles when you add in the distance to and from the transition area.)

Regardless of which distance you pick, Sanders and Starykowicz were simply flying through the course. Sanders then managed to outrun anther ITU long distance world champion – Pablo Dapena – to take the men’s title.

Here’s how we recapped the bike split after the race:

Sanders’s bike split was just 11-seconds slower than Starykowicz’s, 1:14:54, which means he averaged 30.44 mph/ 48.95 kph if the course was 38 miles and 30.04/ 48.30 if it was 37.5. Coming out of the water 50-seconds behind Starykowicz, Sanders put together a few laps averaging over 50 kph in trying to get to the front of the race.