Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae won the 2010 Ironman World Championship on a Cannondale Slice, but she switched to Felt this winter (see photos of her new bike below). She took the time to talk to Triathlete.com about her decision to switch bikes and what she has planned on the 2011 racing schedule. She also provides a tip for age groupers looking to make the jump to Ironman like she did. Okay, maybe not as well as she did.
Triathlete.com will be on hand next week when Carfrae and the Felt team go into the Low Speed Wind Tunnel to refine her position and the geometry of her new bike. Check back in next week for more of the spunky world champ.
Triathlete.com: Why did you decide to switch bike sponsors after your phenomenal 2010 season?
Mirinda Carfrae: I had been with my former sponsor for so long, and I wasn’t actively seeking a new bike. I hoped I would be with them for the rest of my career. I talked with Felt and they spoke about how they could help my performance. I started to think about the possibility, but it wasn’t until a few months later that I started to seriously consider switching. A bunch of other companies came knocking, but I didn’t even entertain other offers. Felt was just head and shoulders above when it comes to their passion and what they’re already doing with their bikes. They cater to the smaller athlete. We didn’t even talk numbers. It wasn’t a case of who is going to pay me more, it was a case of which brand is going to make the most sense to me as an athlete.
Triathlete.com: How long is your deal with Felt?
MC: Three years, but I hope to play out the rest of my career with them.
Triathlete.com: You moved to a smaller frame size last year, and your bike fit improved because of it. Are you riding the smallest Felt DA, sized 48cm?
MC: I’m not on their smallest bike. I’m on the next size up, the 50cm. Compared to my former bike, its head tube is shorter and the distance from the saddle to the handlebar is longer. I’m currently riding the old-model DA, but Felt is creating a smaller version of the new DA. (The smallest current DA is 51cm.) I’m heading into the Low Speed Wind Tunnel in San Diego with Felt next week and, they are basing the geometry of the new bike to accommodate my fit. They’ve got most of the measurements down pat, but want to get me in the wind tunnel and make sure of the final measurements, especially the top tube length.
Triathlete.com: When will the new Felt DA be ready?
MC: They hope to have it ready for me this year. I’m not sure about production model timeline.
Triathlete.com: Did they have to modify your current bike to match your fit from last year?
MC: I want to be in the same position as I was last year, so they had me send in all of my fit measurements, and the DA was a little too long [from saddle to handlebar] for me. They custom made a stem to shorten the reach. For the new bike, they will adjust the top tube length so I can use the regular stem.
Triathlete.com: You consulted with Mat Steinmetz of Retül last year to dial in your fit, have you gone back to him to ensure you’re riding the same position on the new bike?
MC: I hopped in with Mat as soon as I got the bike. We just wanted to get the same position as before, but we did make one change this year. I went from 167.5mm cranks to 165mm cranks. Other than that, my fit is exactly the same. We’ll make some slight adjustments after Ironman New Zealand and throughout the year.
Triathlete.com: Other than the frame, are you changing any other components you rode last year?
MC: I’m staying with Zipp, SRAM and Profile Design, so everything else is pretty much the same. At the moment, I’m on the Profile Design Volna [aerobar], but we might try a few other Profile bars.
Triathlete.com: How has your off-season gone so far?
MC: I wish I had more time, but the months have just gone by since Kona. I haven’t had the time I would have liked to get the training in, so I’m just cramming it in to get it done. IM NZ will be the first race, and I look at it as training so I can line back up on the start line in Kona. [If not for the rule requiring another Ironman finish in the same year to qualify to Kona], I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m already stressing out about getting to the finish line in New Zealand.
Triathlete.com: Has your training changed at all because of this Kona qualification rule change?
MC: I’m pushing a little bit harder than I was at this stage last year, but [coach] Siri [Lindley] doesn’t want me to be too much further ahead. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near my peak fitness, but obviously I need to be fit enough to handle the distance. I feel like I’m in a similar place as last year, which is great but also a little bit scary.
Triathlete.com: What about the rest of your race schedule after IM NZ?
MC: I like to try and keep things very similar. I’m going to race more in the spring. I’ll do IM NZ, Ironman 70.3 California, Ironman 70.3 Texas, and maybe Ironman 70.3 St. Croix in the spring. Then, I’ll continue my regular plan, which will be two 70.3’s in June, Ironman 70.3 Vineman in July, and maybe an Olympic-distance race such as the Boulder Peak Triathlon or Life Time Fitness Triathlon to keep my speed going.
Triathlete.com: You moved up from specializing in Olympic distance and 70.3 to Ironman with tremendous success. Do you have any tips for age groupers making the same transition?
MC: The main thing is to go through the Olympic and half distances before Ironman. You don’t want to progress too quickly. If anything, just don’t overdo it. The best advice I got was that you’re better to go into an Ironman underdone than overdone. You want to go in mentally fresh and ready to go. Another thing that is overlooked is nutrition. I’ve been working with Greg Cox since 2002, and his plan for me has been spot on every time. I found someone that can figure out exactly what I need to get the best out of myself.
See images of Carfrae’s Felt DA in the gallery below: