Our own Brad Culp sat the Ironman bike record holder (Starykowicz) and the Kona bike record holder (Wurf) down for a delightfully punchy chat just ahead of the 2018 Ironman World Championship. Who’s the greatest cyclist in Ironman history?
Culp: Starky we’ll start with you. Any plans for restraint on Saturday?
Starykowicz: Was that a question?
Culp: That’s a terrible question. Cam, any plans for restraint on race day?
Wurf: No. Unequivocally no.
Culp: I can expect Andrew might have a few minutes out of the water on you. (No offense, I know you’ve been working on your swim.) [To Starky] But do you think you’ll see this guy at any point during the bike ride aside from the turnaround?
Starykowicz: I don’t know. There’s 50-something males in the race. Granted Cam’s an incredibly strong cyclist—I’m not gonna zero in on just one athlete. You have people that are always insanely gifted in the wind like Kienle, and Sanders has done alright in the wind. But the one thing I’ll be disappointed in Cam is if he drags those little guys up to me, up to the pack. You know he’s a former cyclist so I think he has some cycling tactics he can use to get rid of them instead of just toting them along and have a better chance at winning the World Championship.
Culp: Cam, might you try, just for your buddy Andrew here, not to drag Sebi and some of those other guys up to him?
Wurf: Absolutely. Now that I understand his wishes, absolutely I’m gonna change my tactics a little bit. Nah, Andrew’s exactly right, it’s a different type of ride with the wind and the dynamics. I think one of the keys to this course that people don’t really get is the free speed you can get from it. The hills are never steep—there’s nothing that really slows you down if you know how to utilize the road. So that’s another skill that some athletes might have that you don’t know about. But if you want to be the strongest cyclist here in Kona, you can’t be worrying about dragging people around or being dragged up to you. You’d want to be pretty confident that you can stay away from everyone just doing your thing.
Culp: I like the idea of racing instead of focusing too much on power and keeping it steady. I know Andrew you don’t race with power…
Starykowicz: I’m not talking about the bike, right, I’m talking about dragging them up to me for the run. The bike’s a foregone conclusion—there’s not a doubt in my mind who the strongest cyclist is. I’m talking about setting them up to win the race at the end of the day. Because that’s my goal. I’m here to win. Cam’s here to set a record.
Culp: Is that true cam?
Wurf: Absolutely. I want to, uh, try and break seven hours for the race. For the whole race. So I’m really aiming for the record.
Culp: What do you admire most about how the other guy rides a bike? Cam I’ll start with you.
Wurf: I really love it that he’s adopted the principle of giving it everything he’s got and then figuring out how to run. It’s actually been quite inspiring for me because so many people tell you you’ve got to back off the bike to run. And Andrew is a smart guy—I hate to give him credit, I really do, I hate to compliment him—but he’s a very smart guy and he realizes that he’s gotta learn to run well after riding hard. So I really admire the way he does it because that’s given me a path to follow. And like often happens when someone forges a path, the person who follows is much better at it. So that’s what I’ve proven time and time again.
Culp: Alright and for you, Andrew, what do you admire most about the way this guy rides. You can say nothing if you feel that way.
Starykowicz: No like he says, the children that come after you will sometimes be better than you and often are better than you. But again, they are just children and they need to be taught lessons and disciplined.
Culp: I don’t even know where to do with that. Lastly [to Starky], I know that you said you’re here to win and I hope that happens, but what’s a good result for you. What will you walk away from this island being happy with?
Starykowicz: Either I’m going to blow up and have to do a lot of walking or I’m going to win the race.
Culp: I like it. Cam, what’s it gonna take for you to leave the island satisfied?
Wurf: A victory for me is, when you talk about records, the only time that the best can be measured is when you’ve got the best athletes and they’re at their absolute best so you can prove you’re better than them all. So that’s what I’m going to try to do on Saturday. And Andrew has obviously been here before and not been able to prove that in any way, shape, or form so I’m really excited to see what he can do. If it’s 15 minutes better than he’s done before, I’ll be happy for him. I can’t wait to get out there on Saturday. I’m very content with what I’ve already done—it’s much easier when you’ve already done it, so I’m looking forward to it.