Chris Leiferman is a top-contending 70.3 and 140.6-distance athlete. He finished out 2020 on a high note, with wins at the Great Floridian Triathlon and IRONMAN Florida. We had the chance to check in with Chris to see how his 2021 season is shaping up, including equipment changes, racing plans, and more.
Slowtwitch: How was your year in 2020, dealing with the pandemic and all that it brought? What was the toughest aspect, and were there any silver linings?
Chris Leiferman: I think I fared a lot better than others. It gave me an opportunity to work on other aspects of my fitness as well as tinker around on the house. The toughest aspect was staying relevant, as an athlete to the social media crowd, but the silver lining is that I got to go camping and hang out with the family more than I ever get to do in a normal race year.
ST: Describe your back-to-back wins in Florida at the end of 2020.
CL: It was a pretty good feeling! To be the only one winning an Ironman in North America was huge! Definitely a good way to have made something out of nothing during 2020.
ST: You joined the BMC team in 2018. What is it like being part of a team?
CL: It’s amazing! Team BMC has been around for years and they have solidified the best brands in the world to sponsor the team. They take really good care of us and really leave it to us to just train and compete. Bob and Ben are fantastic managers and their credibility is something that is known around the industry.
ST: Do you have any big changes in 2021 with your equipment or bike position?
CL: I would like to work on my position and I have already made changes to raising my extensions higher and bringing my head lower. I think cleaning up my front end will make a big difference for me.
ST: Will you do any wind tunnel testing this year?
CL: I would love to. I will have to reach out to a tunnel or velodrome myself in order to make it happen.
ST: Are you on rim brakes or disc brakes this year?
CL: Disc brakes. BMC has really dialed their TM01 with the disc braking and it is a dream to ride on!
ST: What about tubed tires vs tubeless - for training and racing? What make, model, width, and pressure will you run?
CL: I have changed over to tubeless for training now, I’ve been racing tubeless for about 3 years. It’s just nice, haha, as simple as that. Smoother, more protection and faster. I have DT Swiss ARC wheels for racing and use the Hutchinson Fusion tires. I use the 25c tires since the DT Swiss wheels are wide, it places the outside bead of the tire nice and flush. I race at 95 PSI. I train a bit lower for more supple rides, but an extra 5 PSI for racing.
ST: We learned that you've been testing the new ARC 1100 disc wheel from DT Swiss. Do you plan to use this for most or all of your races? Do you ever use a deep rim rear wheel instead? What's your front wheel of choice?
CL: The new DT Swiss disc is legit! it’s extremely light and aero. They even have their own disc valve cover which, I believe, is the first ever. It ticks every box needed in a disc wheel. I will use that disc in every opportunity. It’s light enough to climb up any hill and, well, it’s just simply fast for any other style of terrain. The DT Swiss hub is top notch and with their ceramic bearings, which is stock by the way, makes it absolutely smooth. Combined with an 80mm front wheel, you are stacked with the best wheel combination on the market. I do use a rear 80mm wheel only when the race makes it mandatory like Ironman Kona or Cozumel. [In Kona I use the] 60mm front and 80mm rear.
ST: What's your drivetrain setup, including front chainring size(s) and rear cog sizes?
CL: My most standard set up is a 55/42t front with an 11/25 rear. The 55 front allows you to keep the power to the pedals on downhills and the 11/25 allows you to not miss out on that sweet spot cog in the back. sometimes the 11/28 isn’t best as it’s missing the 16 tooth. I do train with the 11/28 as in training, it’s nice to have your easy spins up hill and getting into the 42/28 is necessary. However, in a race, you are motoring through and I get by just fine with the harder gearing.
ST: What does your upcoming race schedule look like?
CL: I have the Collins Cup in August and then 70.3 Worlds, Ironman Worlds, and finally Challenge Daytona in December.
All images courtesy of Chris Leiferman.