Why did Lionel Sanders ride the old Canyon Speedmax at IM 70.3 Oceanside?

To the observant viewer, two things must have stood out for them at last week’s Ironman 70.3 Oceanside: Lionel Sanders wasn’t carrying any nutrition on his bike – no aero bottle, no fancy drinking system and no bottle in the cage behind his seat – and another thing, he was riding his old Canyon Speedmax. Why is that?, some wondered. In a Discord interview, Sanders would’ve previously mentioned to prefer the old Speedmax on a hilly course like Oceanside, but maybe also for the Ironman World Championship in St. George.

On his YouTube channel, Daniel – aka Triathlon Dan – discussed the matter in a short video, which can be seen below. In the video, he mentions: “This is the Canyon Speedmax CF SLX; the previously model, the rim brake version. It’s in the Movistar team colors, the world tour cycling team. This is not the triathlon model, but the time trial only model. A pretty basic TT bike. Of course, it’s top of the range spec-wise, but it’s basic in terms of there is no built-in hydration, no tool storage, no built-in nutrition. I think this is all nodding towards him wanting to ride the lightest bike that he can. The Oceanside course has a couple of significant climbs in the back half.”

Given this hilly course, an aerodynamic bike provides with less of an advantage in comparison to a lighter bike. The new Canyon Speedmax, that Sanders usually rides, the Speedmax CFR Disc, is 9.34 kg in weight, whereas the previous Canyon Speedmax CF SLX 9.0 TT – the model that Sanders rode in Oceanside – weights “only” 8.2 kg. A significant difference, and a difference that might give him just that little extra to battle his way up the hills.

This is not the only theory out there, though. It could also have to do with Sanders preferring rim brakes over disc brakes, or choosing this bike over his new one because it has smaller gearing. Whether that has anything to do with it remains the question, but so far, it seems like it has much to do with the weight matter.