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Lionel Sander’s Custom Kona Kits

Published on October 2018
Team Garneau
Team Garneau

Passionate about all things cycling. #LiveYourDream

If you didn’t know it already, the folks here at Garneau are really into gear. Whatever microclimate or riding environment you can imagine, there’s a pretty good chance we have a piece of apparel to match it. Temperatures and race conditions can vary, which means a rider’s needs are always fluctuating.

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 Photo credit: Talbot Cox

We’re always looking for a good challenge to innovate in our space, so when we sat down with Lionel Sanders earlier this year to chat about the 2018 IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, we got especially excited. You see, Lionel has been working with us on our tri apparel for quite some time. He’s one of the best triathletes in the world, and with that comes the highest level of demand for innovative tri gear to help him perform at his best.

Last year, Lionel’s strategy was to change into a different kit for each portion of the triathlon. The idea was that while he may eat up a few extra seconds changing during T1 and T2, having a kit that was specifically designed for the swim, bike, and run would save him minutes by the end of the grueling event. In the end, it worked, and Lionel finished on the podium.

This year, his challenge to us was to come up with different “options.” He didn’t just need one new innovative kit, instead he was looking for several different pieces he could test out in Kona leading up to the race. He would train in Hawaii, watch the weather conditions, see how one piece felt over the other, and ultimately decide what he was going to wear on race day. “How long is an IRONMAN,” you ask? Well, it’s a grueling 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, and finally, a 26.22-mile run. It’s the hardest one-day race in the world, and we were happy to help him with his gear choices.

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Below are five different garments we made just for Kona, that Lionel can pair together to form four different configuration options.  Let us know in the comments section or social media which one(s) you think he’ll wear and what combo you’d wear! 

OPTION ONE: The one-piece LGneer Tri Suit

The first option we made was a one-piece short sleeve tri suit that was based on our Course suit. We used our M2 fabric for the top: it’s super aero, very form fitting, and saves tons of time over the course of 112 miles on the bike. For the bottom, we upgraded to our LGneer fabric for this suit. The LGneer fabric is state of the art: it provides three different levels of compression along the shorts that target specific active muscle recovery zones for energy and time savings, hence keeping you fresher for the run.

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Personally, we would consider this the #1 choice for aerodynamics on the bike and all-day use. The potential downsides are that the water in Kona is warm, and while wetsuits aren’t allowed for the swim, speedsuits are. Having a short-sleeve piece on underneath could cause an un-needed extra layer.

It’s also harder to go to the restroom during the day, but that’s a whole other blog post.

OPTION TWO: The one-piece turned into two pieces

It seems an obvious choice to take a one piece and make it into two pieces, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Taking the same fabrics from the one-piece tri suit we spoke about above and turning it into two pieces gives Lionel more options during the race. With the two-piece option, he still has the same benefits of the M2 top and the multi-compression zone shorts, but now he can mix and match.

Untitled-1-1For the swim, he could wear only the shorts, and then add the short sleeve M2 jersey for the bike portion. This could free movement during the 2.4-mile swim and make it more efficient. However, since it’s not part of the one-piece suit anymore, it won’t be as aerodynamic on the bike, as it’s not as form-fitting. During the run, though, it could be less restrictive and prove to be more comfortable. This of course all depends on the race day conditions and how Lionel is feeling on race day.

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Oh yeah, it’d be a lot easier to go to the bathroom in as well, but again, another blog post…

OPTION THREE: Two pieces with sleeveless top

The same LGneer shorts as option two, but with a sleeveless tri top made out of Speedtech fabric, versus the short sleeve version. This combo gives Lionel the same versatility as option two, but having a sleeveless top makes it easier to swim and run. The downside is the sleeveless top isn’t as aero for the bike.

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It’s also easier to go the bathroom in, but, you know…

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Side Note

For every bottom we made for Lionel, we upgraded the chamois to an all-new version that’s reinventing what a tri-specific chamois should be. We worked with him on his specific needs and developed a new high-tech version that will be launched in the next year. We can’t spill the beans on this one quite yet, so you’ll have to stay tuned next summer to hear all about this new chamois that will be available in our new line.

 

OPTION FOUR: The all-new cooling tri suit

Ok, so it’s not all that top secret now that we’re writing about it, but we’ve been keeping this one on the down-low for a while.

One of the biggest challenges for triathletes, especially in the heat of Kona, is staying cool. Hydration options can be challenging, particularly during the run. To help combat these issues, we developed a second version of our one-piece LGneer tri suit that helps with cooling and hydration.

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It’s made with the same materials as option one: LGneer bottom with three zones of compression and M2 top. For this one though, we added a total of 6 mesh pockets throughout the suit to hold water bottles and wet sponges or ice against the body. It’s the first full hydration and cooling tri suit on the market, and it’s a game changer for sure!

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Wet sponges or ice go against the body to regulate internal temperatures. It’s a great little trick that triathletes have been doing for quite some time, there’s just never been a good place to put the ice and sponges until now. We put two mesh pockets on the inside of the legs, and two huge pockets at the waist. There are also integrated water bottle pockets at the front that alleviate the need to wear a water belt. We also added a small pocket for a GPS tracker during the race.

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For a more in depth review, check out our Inside Look with Lionel:

We’re feeling pretty good about this option, though it presents similar downsides as option 1. The cooling benefit could help the body perform better towards the end of the race though, so again, lots of options for Lionel.

So, what do you think? What kit do you think Lionel will wear at Kona? What kit would you wear? Let us know on social media or by posting in the comment section below, and stay tuned for more updates from Kona!