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Why US triathlon star Taylor Knibb can excel in Olympic Games cycling time trial, but will swerve road race – Dan Lorang

Taylor Knibb's coach tells us why he believes she can be competitive in the TT in Paris but that the road race would be a step too far.

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US phenom Taylor Knibb will push yet more boundaries when she competes at this month’s Olympic Games in both triathlon and road cycling.

The American superstar is vying with reigning men’s champion Kristian Blummenfelt for the title of the world’s most versatile triathlete.

She is in with every chance of a medal at Olympic distance, is out on her own at middle-distance having won the last two IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships, and last year made her full-distance debut in the biggest race there is, the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.

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Time trial yes, road race no

As if that wasn’t enough, her victory in the US National Time Trial Championships means she is also going to Paris for road cycling.

Riding for her Trek Factory Racing team, Knibb claimed victory in Charleston, qualifying her for the second and final Olympic spot alongside UCI World TT champ Chloé Dygert.

That made Knibb the first American athlete to qualify in two sports for Paris, though Dygert herself will also race in the track cycling.

Knibb could also compete in the road race in Paris but that won’t happen – with her coach Dan Lorang telling TRI247 that the time trial and road race are two very disciplines, especially for a full-time triathlete.

He’s perfectly positioned to know as he’s also Head of Performance / Head Coach with Red Bull-Bora-hansgrohe pro team which is currently competing in cycling’s biggest race, the Tour de France.

He told us: “You have to really separate time trial and road race cycling.

“The time trial is about pure performance, about aerodynamics, it’s about riding your time trial bike.

“And for sure, there’s a higher chance to also be competitive there compared to road racing.

“In theory, Taylor would also be qualified for the road race but we said no, we will not do this because we have never done a road race.

“It’s for her own safety and also the safety of the others as it is a completely a different thing.

Taylor Knibb IRONMAN World Championship Kona 2023 Bike Leg
Taylor Knibb in action at the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (Getty Images for IRONMAN).

“So you can push the power, have the VO2 level and so on but that doesn’t mean you can manage it.

“It’s not just about producing the power in the peloton but also about trying to save energy and deal with all the external factors you can get in a bike road race.

“That’s why this transition is not so easy and a lot of time it’s underestimated.”

The fine margins in top-level road racing were illustrated once again on Wednesday when Mark Cavendish won his historic 35th stage at the Tour de France amid a number of crashes and near misses which thankfully seemed to see everyone emerge unscathed.

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Next project for ‘Big Blu’?

Blummenfelt himself has been rumoured to be considering riding for a pro cycling team after Paris and while not focusing on specific cases outside of his own circle, Lorang underlined just what a challenge that would be.

He told us: “You do sometimes have exceptions who are able to adapt quite fast to the environment. But it’s not all about just the power and the performance.

“So even if you have the potential, I think it’s also a project to make that happen.

“How do you handle being in the peloton and all the stress that goes with that?

It’s something that you would probably test first in the development team and only then [look at] a World Tour team.

“For sure it would be a really interesting project but we have to be careful also to still respect the pro cyclists because it’s still a different level, especially at the top.

“I have never seen a triathlete on the men’s side who could compete with a [Tadej] Pogačar or a [Jonas] Vingegaard [the winners of the last four editions of the Tour de France]. Talking about competing as opposed to winning are two completely different things.”

Dan Lorang triathlon and cycling coach
Coach Dan Lorang – fascinating insights from the pro peloton (Photo credit: BORA – hansgrohe / Veloimages)
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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