The photos below are all from IRONMAN Oceanside 70.3, 2017 edition, and are all the fruit of Timothy Carlson's fine photography.
The captions are Dan Empfield's, and are comments and critiques of the bike positions these riders have chosen. There is one photo below not from the Oceanside race and the reason for including it is apparent below.
Heather Jackson rides strong. She rides hard. She rides fast. But I think she could ride a little lower.
Holly Lawrence very simply had the best bike position among all the women who competed in Oceanside. This is what it should look like.
I love how Trevor Wurtele looks on his bike: comfortable, powerful, aerodynamic, looks like he could ride like this all day.
Here's the other half of the Wurtele franchise, Heather. It wouldn't bother me if the whole cockpit was moved forward a centimeter or two. This is atypical of the female pros of today, many of whom tend (in my opinion) to ride too far forward, often because their bikes are not geometrically correct (they aren't compact enough). Heather is tall, so she doesn't have that issue. Heather is often more highly placed than her husband, gender-normalized. But I think Trevor has the (slightly) more optimized position.
Ellie Salthouse, great racer. Winner. One of Siri Lindley's powerful squad. I think there's more work that can be done here. Saddle a slight bit forward (but without moving the bars forward!); bars a little lower.
Here's Taylor Reid. One reason why the men's bike positions look, on average, better than the women's bike positions is that the bikes underneath them are made for the men. They're designed around riders who're between 5'10 and 6'1" and then they're scaled up and down from there. Women are often, then, riding bikes that are geometric hack jobs. Yes, that sounds harsh. It's because it is harsh.
Here's Joe Gambles. Not much you can criticize here.
Chris Leiferman looks good on the bike. I've never seen Chris in person, never met him, obviously never fit him, but just looking at him I'd wager that he's long-legged, short-torsoed. See how his knee almost hits his elbow? That's a tell.
Chris's position has morphed forward since his Kestrel riding days, just based on still photos taken over the years.
Another ride who morphed forward since his Kestrel days is Andy Potts. But I think his position got a little stretched shortly before last year's Kona and it's still that way. I like his position best at Kona in 2015.
Jan Frodeno is another tall drink-o'-water: short torso, long legs. As a bike fitter it's my experience these are the hardest people to fit. I'm glad fitting Jan to his bike is not my job. Whomever is in charge of his bike position does a pretty good job of hurdling the morphological roadblocks of Jan's body type.
Ronnie Schildknecht is another hard riding athlete. I liked him aboard his old BMC, I like him on his new BMC. One thing about him: his position never changes. You can look at pics of him going back, he's the same Ronnie. Nevertheless, if the bars came back toward his saddle about 15mm, and dropped about 15mm, I might like it better. I've always felt that way about his position, but it's hard to argue with the success he's had.
Why do I dare write that about Ronnie? He rides so well! Yes. And so did Lionel Sanders last year in Kona. But look at this photo above. This is Lionel in Oceanside. Below is Lionel in Kona last year and let's talk about this for a moment.
I asked Lionel about this. "Looks like you got shorter and lower." Yes, he said, he went to a shorter stem, he moved from a -6° to -20° stem, and took out all the spacers. All told, he thinks he dropped the pads about 6cm versus his Kona position. He went from looking "open" (I can't think of a better term) to appropriately tight. My critique of (as examples) Ellie Salthouse and Ronnie Schildknecht is that they look a little more like the old Lionel than I would like, and not enough like the new Lionel, which I love. Lionel is, now, optimized.
If you look at Andreas Drietz, he's just more compact. I like that.
Here's Jason Pedersen. He ran at Northern Arizona which is a run powerhouse. Seems like a number of potentially great triathletes come out of that run program (Matt McElroy, Andy Trouard). I think Jason is still morphing into his optimized no-draft position. I've seen pics of him riding more forward, and here he looks a bit rearward. Figuring out how to translate from an ITU position to a no-draft position is also sometimes a challenge. (Clue: the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other, so don't try to connect those dots.) This is the best Jason has looked aboard his bike, in my opinion. But I don't think this position has finished morphing.