Caroline Steffen has been identified by many as co-favorite to win the 2012 Hawaii Ironman. To take the title, she will need to put major time between her and Carfrae aboard this Cervélo P5.
We caught up with the Swiss on the way out for her final long training ride—4 hours done extremely slowly. She will swap to Campagnolo deep-section wheels for the Ironman World Championship on Saturday.
Xena is racing the Cervélo P5 Three, not the totally integrated P5 Six. Her bike has a standard stem and front brake instead of an extra-deep fork with a headtube fairing. The less complicated—although slightly less aero—bike choice makes travel a little more simplistic for Steffen, and allows her to race with a complete kit of Campagnolo parts.
She is racing the 3T Aduro aerobar, which was specially designed for the P5 with input from Cervélo. One of the key features of the bar is its ability to elevate the aerobar pads high above the basebar, but Steffen doesn’t need the lift so she opts for the flat assembly. As a result, her aerobar pads sit directly on top of the basebar and a carbon filler piece on top of the stem occupies the space left by the riser. She uses one spacer beneath the aerobar to prop herself up a single centimeter.
While many triathletes have drifted to fits with higher hand positions, Steffen still rides with her hands below her elbows. She uses straight 3T extensions that allow her to get a strong grip through the bars and keep her wrists taught.
She races on Speedplay Zero pedals and has 54-42 tooth chainrings. Every other component on her P5 is standard mechanical Campagnolo Record or SuperRecord. She will switch to Campagnolo’s electronic EPS groupset after Ironman Hawaii, but didn’t want to make any dramatic changes to her equipment in the lead-up to the race.
For hydration, Steffen uses just two bottles. One is stored in a standard round frame bottle cage and the second between her aerobars. She has a plastic cage mounted using a plastic bridge between the extensions fixed with zip ties. A shoelace with a loop hooks around the bottle’s nipple so it doesn’t pop out.
She rides a Cobb Cycling Plus saddle with two special charms dangling off the rails. Steffen started her endurance career as a cyclist, so she hung a little lion on her bike in honor of the stuffed lion given to the stage winner and yellow jersey leader at the end of every stage of the Tour de France. A while back she lost the lion and went back to get another, but the store was sold out so she replaced it with the closest thing she could find—a sheep. The second figurine hanging from her bike is a “safety charm” given to her by her sister and nephew to keep her safe. Their initials are written on the back.