Canadian Lionel Sanders become the long course triathlon world champion on Canadian soil at Penticton last weekend. After a sensational swim, Sanders recovered from a flat tyre in the bike, making his win all the more thrilling.
“It was a pretty good, calm swim,” Sanders mentioned, “I got lucky that it was a wetsuit swim.” By the time Sanders made it to the bike, it was clear there was a heavy, dense pack of fierce riders who had lumped, almost too closely, together. “It got a bit congested on the second loop (of the bike), but it’s that way for everybody,” said Sanders.
A flat tyre threatens to ruin Sanders’ race
Luckily for Sanders, he had brought a flat kit, so he was exceptionally prepared when he encountered a flat tyre during a descent.
“I was a little freaked out, to be honest with you. It took me a while to gain my composure. I thought maybe I was going to go down.
“Then I was pretty gun shy on the rest of the descents because I didn’t check the tyre for debris or anything,”.
“That flat tyre really got into my head. It’s a testament to staying focused,” said Sanders. Strangely enough, Triathlon World’s editor and Sanders had discussed the importance of bringing a flat kit to the race just two days earlier. “I’m damn lucky I had a flat kit and two CO2 (cartridges) as well – the first CO2 (cartridge) I let the air out without putting the air in.”
Anger fuels Sanders on a lightning fast run
Recovering quickly, Sanders flew through the remaining bike course, but by T2 he had a deficit of more than seven minutes. “I was running off pure anger,” said Sanders, “you can do a lot of things when you’re pissed off.” After the frustrating flat tyre, Sanders powered along at a fierce pace. “I think I ran 1:45 after a 120km bike, so I think that was close to one of the best runs I’ve ever done.”
“I like adversity. I don’t ask for it but it always seems to come for me,” Sanders told CBC.
“So I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool to win this thing with a flat tire’ and that became my motivation, so you can do a lot of things when you are highly motivated.”
By the 23km mark of the 30km run, Sanders caught up to Aussie Josh Amberger and overtook him. “I made a pact with myself to keep the pace nice and rich through 28km, then you can tone it down a little bit if you have a decent lead,” said Sanders. By the 28km mark, the Canadian had a 1.5 minute lead. “I was able to not kill myself for the final two kilometres,” said Sanders.
Sanders eyes are on Kona, not Chattanooga
“I think to be in really good Ironman and really good 70.3 shape is really tough,” Sanders told Triathlon World when asked why he wasn’t going to the Ironman 70.3 World Champs. “I know I’m moving in the right direction to be in good Ironman shape now…The goal is Kona.”
Sanders has worked exceptionally hard throughout his career, and he’s feeling like it’s finally paying off. “I feel like I’ve paid my dues now. This particular one was the hardest I’ve ever done as well, as it should be.” Now all eyes are on Sanders to see if he can pull off the same performance at Kona.
A cyclist, tech geek at heart, a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of the world's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.