Well, well, well... time for the vocal minority to issue their .02. Tis a detailed look at T.J. Tollakson's new race setup, as raced at Ironman 70.3 New Orleans last week.
We did a photo shoot with T.J . the day before the race in Nawlins. He said he'd kept his race setup pretty much on the low-low, the only folks seeing it being those in Tucson on the Shootout.
This new position, as I mentioned, was something he tested and developed on his own dime at the A2 Wind Tunnel in North Carolina. I know lots of athletes are at the tunnel at the behest of their bike sponsor, but T.J. is probably the first athlete who has gone on his own dime.
Granted, he was doing work for his front-end hydration systems, but again, I can count on one hand the athletes that are doing their own product development. So there you go.Given the steep angle of his setup, the solution of using jock cups as forearm cups certainly takes a lot potential fore/aft stress out of the equation (since he doesn't have to shift forward or back). His forearms and chest are so close, he likely doesn't get any eddying behind the arms and into the chest cavity.
T.J. said it was night and day the power numbers that I think he'll be posting soon at his Specialized Riders Club site. (After the race I hitched a ride back to transition with Chris Lieto—a guy known for being protective of his power numbers—and back to my hotel with Tollakson. As we all took off, TJ was offering up his SRM data to Lieto. Jokingly (and knowing the answer), I asked Chris what his numbers were. Nothin' doin.)
I settled into T.J.s aerobars and with the hands up so high, the custom-designed hydration system is literally inches from the face, at about chin level. To create his setup, all T.J. did was use a gasket he picked up at a store in Boulder, and insert it into the side of the bottle, allowing him a way to refill the bottle with course hydration. A straw driven in right in front, and voila, a simple but effective aero bottle. No splash, no muss, no fuss, and as he has tested, aero. Tollakson seals the deal with a bit of duct tape across the front of the extensions, sealing off the leading edge of his aerobar. I don't see a ton of age groupers running as aggressive a setup as T.J., but for those that might, it's a clever solution.
Glad I was able to spend some time with T.J. last week in New Orleans—save for the getting lost on about three highways back in to downtown. Man, his girlfriend has some patience. Kidding—it's something when you've got an athlete taking a journalist out to dinner because he's broke as piecrust. Thanks for the carbload of that alligator and pasta (or chicken and pasta in my case.. but that gator was good!)