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Why Lionel Sanders built a sketchy street velodrome into his Tri course

Aerobars and high speed banked corners all in the name of speed

Photo by: YouTube/Lionel Sanders

Canadian triathlete Lionel Sanders is competing in something called the Zwift Tri Bttle Royale this weekend. Somehow, that involves installing homemade velodrome-style banked corners on the open streets of Allgau, Germany.

It’s all part of an attempt to set a new world’s best time in for the full distance triathlon (3.8km swim, 180k km bike, 42.2 km run). While the head-to-head event looks like big money, the banked corners Sanders and the organizers have concocted look …. a little sketchy.

They look sort of like a velodrome, but noisy. And bumpy.

Say what you will about triathletes technical abilities on the bike, but there is absolutely no way I’d hit that at 50 kph in aero bars on a tri bike.

The banked corners are all in the name of speed. Since the Tri Battle Royal is taking place on a compact, closed course, neither Sanders or his rival in the head-to-head battle, Jan Frodeno, needed a way to keep up speed through the course’s tight, 180-degree corners. The result, which apparently took 300 hours of construction to build, are these 4.5 metre tall contraptions.

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Tri and track aficionados may counter my concerns by pointing out that Sanders is quite comfortable going fast on a velodrome, having set a Canadian hour record. But there’s a world of difference between the controlled environment of a real velodrome and a bunch of plywood slapped together with a red line painted on it.

Sanders and Frodeno seem more confident. They’re already working up to speed on the wall. You can see them hit the wall, in on aero bars but at a more casual pace, in Sander’s Race Week update below:

You can find out more about the hyperbolic Zwift Tri Battle Royale over on Triathlon Magazine Canada. You can also follow the results there, unless someone crashes. We hope no one crashes. But we would also never build and ride something that looks like that. Unless it was a mini-drome. That thing was awesome.

A version of this story originally appeared on Triathlon Magazine Canada, though with fewer jokes at the expense of triathletes.