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Earlier this month, Rudy von Berg achieved a lifelong dream of racing as a pro at the Ironman World Championships. He’ll follow that up this weekend by chasing down another dream: finishing on the podium at 70.3 Worlds. The American pro has already tasted success on the St. George course, winning the North American championship title here in 2019. This time, he’s back with a shiny new tool – literally. His chrome gold Trek Speed Concept turned heads at Kona, and he’s counting on it to launch him up and over the relentless hills of St. George. Before the big day, we sat down with von Berg to talk about the bike, bouncing back from Kona, and what it’s like to train with Lionel Sanders.
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Congratulations on your first Kona experience! What was that like for you, fulfilling your long-time dream of racing as a pro at the Ironman World Championships?
Thank you! It didn’t feel real in a way, because you can’t really believe you’re there after so many years dreaming about this race. I was thinking about when I was 5 years old, watching for the first time in Kona. On the other hand, I would have liked after all these years to be in better fitness for my first Kona. I just had a couple sicknesses in the last year that set me back a little.
This year’s 70.3 Worlds is only three weeks after Kona. How do you bounce back from a race like that so quickly?
I recovered fairly quickly after Kona in about 8 days and was able to start serious training for St. George on the 9th day post-Kona. It was important to have somewhat of a small training block to hopefully get a bump in fitness for the shorter distance. And also, hopefully getting the benefits from the pre-Kona training as well.
Lately, you’ve been training with Collin Chartier and Lionel Sanders. What is that like for you? What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from these training buddies?
Collin trained with Lionel a lot before the U.S. Open in Dallas and in the lead-up to Kona. I only did a few sessions with them, because even though we have the same coach, our travel schedules were different and my hard days at the beginning were a day after theirs. Also, didn’t want to crush myself in the last 2 weeks before the race training with super-fit guys all of a sudden. But it was valuable to do those few sessions I did with them, though, and hopefully there will be more in the future.
You’ve got quite the shiny new rig. Tell us about your bike (all the specs you’ll be riding in St. George) and how the gold color scheme came to be.
Trek made a chrome-colored bike for all their athletes competing in Kona and St. George. I’ve had some gold on my bikes since 2020 and on my race suit since 2019, so it’s kind of been my color. It made sense for me to have an all good chrome version. It looks amazing. Sam [Long] has the pink chrome, and Skye [Moench] has the purple one.
The specs on mine:
- XL Speed Concept
- 54 1x Sram Red Axs chainring 11-33 cassette
- 51speedshop front end high sided cups and oval extensions
- Wove bike saddle
- DT Swiss wheels ARC 1100 disc and 80mm front with Continental GP 5000 TT tires
- Trek Bontrager aero bottle on the downtube
- Neversecond nutrition bento box and BTA bottle.
You know this course well – in fact, you won the North American Championship title here in 2019. How do you adjust your race strategy for a hard course like St. George, especially with a mega-stacked field like this year’s pro race?
I know this course well. I raced here twice, but it looks like the run course is different this year. My race strategy somewhat changes throughout the years based on my fitness levels in each sport and the field and my ambition. For this race, it will as always be important to get out of the water with the front and try to have a strong ride to thin out the group and get onto the run in good position to deliver a strong result. The hilly course suits me a bit better than a flat course and I definitely can try to play with the terrain.
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