Hunter Kemper will be leaving for London soon to compete in his fourth Olympics, but Kemper has not been idle and a few days ago he won the non-drafting Life Time Fitness Minneapolis event in course record time. He though opted to race his Orbea Orca ITU bike, unlike most of his competitors who had TT bikes for that event. We talked with him about the race and that choice.
Slowtwitch: Congrats on your nice win in Minneapolis.
Hunter: Yeah, it went pretty well. It was a good day, but it almost kind of weird because it feels like I didn't win - well, I won. But they brought the Equalizer back, which was kind of nice, and I finished so close to Sarah about 9 seconds behind, but I caught the line second. She breaks the tape and I come right behind her, but it was good. It was a fast day and she went very fast and broke the course record.
ST: But you broke the course record too.
Hunter: I did - I think Whitfield had it in 2008 with a 1:48 and I went 1:47. I had a good day in all my sports, had a great swim start and what is amazing - I actually look forward to next year and all these non-drafting races. You know when you go to these races there are only 20 or so Pros maximum at the start line versus the ITU where you have 60 to 75 guys. So these starts are a lot less intimidating. I was fourth out of the water and had a solid bike. But the bike segment was somewhat narrow and everyone was stuck together and no one could really get away. I tried to get away from this group, and you are not drafting, but everyone is pacing of one another. It is a bit more of a frontrunner sport, but the bike went actually quite well and I didn't think I could win the race until I realized how close I was to Cam (Dye.)
ST: Your bike split was about 70 seconds slower.
Hunter: It was surprising that we did not lose that much time. I felt like, I went to the front, Ben Collins went to the front and so did Andy (Potts) and we tried to get things moving, but it did not feel that fast. So it was surprising to be that close. It was a hot day too.
ST: In the end you were 9 seconds slower than Sarah Haskins (who rode a TT bike) and some folks would say that you opting for the road bike cost you that time and more.
Hunter: That is true, what you are saying is that it is basically free speed. In the end for me, I ride my road bike so much during the year and hardly spend any time on the TT bike and therefore don't get very comfortable on it. That makes it difficult for me to go back and forth on those bikes. But that course was difficult and it being just being before the Olympic Games and it being the bike I will ride in the Olympic Games, I was not going to change what I was doing. I have a lot more comfort, but you better believe that next year you'll see me on my TT bike and hopefully in much better position and get even more time. Hopefully maybe this year too I am debating when I get back from the Olympics, I'll try to get dialed on my TT bike, and jump into the Chicago event before Hy-Vee to give it a test run and then maybe use it at Hy-Vee. There certain non-drafting races like the one I won in Austin with the multi-loop course and many U-turns where it might not really matter, but with races like Chicago and LA it is surely better to be on a TT bike. But I did not want to change anything at this point though.
ST: Talk about your bike for the Olympics. Custom paint?
Hunter: It is a black and red actually, not a specific Olympic paint and it is same 60cm Orbea Orca that I usually ride. But it'll be a brand new bike for the Olympics, which I'll hopefully get this week. All Shimano Di2 stuff and I will ride the Shimano C35 wheels, not the really deep ones. I feel it is the lightest option and while aero is something to consider, the Olympic course has all those turns and corners and thus lighter is better.
ST: Clip-on bars?
Hunter: Shorty clip-on bars - yes. I'll have them on, but I still have to figure out which ones I am going to ride.
ST: Well the Brownlees don't use them.
Hunter: No, they don't. I am not sure if this is a trend, but I definitely think there are more and more athletes not using them. A lot of our races are very crit styled with many turns and on a course like that it is very hard to get on them. But to me it is a bit of security blanket, and hey if a break happens and I am in it, it would be nice to have them. But you are right - the Brownlees have changed the game in regards to that. They have somewhat of an old school mentality. I have never talked to them about it, but they don't do clip on bars, that it just not their thing. They don't do sunglasses and they don't do all the easy things.
ST: Well, that is time in transition and extra weight.
Hunter: That is exactly right, that is time in transition and extra weight with a lot of those things. That is true, you give up some things.
ST: Well good luck in London and thanks for your time.
Hunter: Thank you Herbert.