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Top 5 triathlon tips Nicola Spirig gave Fabian Cancellara

When cycling superstar Fabian Cancellara expressed an interest in the world of triathlon, we here at On were thrilled to bring him together with triathlon legend Nicola Spirig to get some of the best triathlon insider’s tips into the world of the triathlete.

Soon we will make you a triathlete – Nicola Spirig to Fabian Cancellara

Before the two faced off in a mini-triathlon along the Lake of Zurich (see the photos and video of the race here) Fabian Cancellara, “Spartacus” of the cycling world, was being coached in some of the finer details of the triathlon by two-time Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig. We were lucky enough to be standing right there as Nicola told Fabian some key triathlon beginner tips, which she felt were the most important for people starting out in triathlon – and below we’ve compiled the top 5 triathlon tips she shared.


1. Warm up for all disciplines at the start

It’s easy to be focused on the start of the triathlon and thinking only about the swim that you forget to stretch your muscles that will be used the rest of the day. This is where Nicola recommended warming up your whole body (especially the legs) before you hit the water as realistically, the swim the shortest part of the race.


2. Double swimming cap

Once in the water you want to be distraction free. One of the biggest things that can go wrong is water seeping into your googles, blurring your vision of what’s ahead and of the competition around you. To combat this, Nicola recommends two swimming caps: the first goes on, then googles over the top behind the cap, then the second cap locking the googles firmly in place.


3. Set up the bike up right

Despite being one of the world’s most famous cyclists for over 20 years, Nicola was quick to remind Fabian how different tri-riding is to other types of cycling. Here, it’s all about optimizing the triathlon transitions to get on the bike and getting going as fast as possible. To do so, she said to make sure of two main things: firstly, that the helmet is on the bike or right next to it for you to quickly grab and go. Secondly, that the pedals (with the shoes on them already) are arranged in the right way for your first step in to count towards moving the bike forward.


Setting up the triathlon transition area right can save minutes during the race

4. Fast shoes put on fast

It’s all about fast triathlon transitions, and so from the bike to the run, Nicola’s advice in selecting the best triathlon running shoes was to choose a fast pair of shoes you can put on fast. This means speed laces (such as for the Cloud) or any kind of quick-tie so you can put the shoes on and know they don’t need to be touched again during the run.

You don't have time to dry your feet or for socks. Every second counts. Just go. – Nicola Spirig

5. Take time before the race

Definitely the greatest points Nicola shared all revolved around the changing area to get the most out of the triathlon transitions. Her final tip? Taking time before the race to set up every aspect of the changing station to make each transition as smooth and fast as it can be. This is, in Nicola’s opinion, the part of the race most people new to triathlon neglect – but the part that can ultimately save you the seconds and even minutes you might need to win the race.


See all the photos and coverage from the Nicola Spirig and Fabian Cancellara triathlon here.

Fabian’s shoe of choice for the race
The Cloudflow
See it here
Nicola’s shoe of choice for the race
The Cloudrush
See it here