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Back 3.28.2013

Why did Sebastian Kienle join Zipp? He has Super-9 reasons

We’re proud to have Ironman® 70.3® world champ Sebastian Kienle riding Zipp wheels, SRAM RED – 2012 and Quarq Power Meters this season. Check out our recent chat with this talented young German triathlete:

We’ve heard you’re a techie guy. Your website lists you as being a physics student who loves to work on bikes. What specifically attracted you to Zipp?
I’m doing triathlon since 19 years now. I could still remember those days when I was doing the “pit walk” in the transition area and wished I had some of those Zipp wheels. Zipp has been a front-runner in wheel development for a long time. Right now it is the brand new Zipp Super-9 Carbon Clincher Disc that is one of the reasons why I wanted to team up with Zipp. It is not easy to build a good carbon clincher rim. I’m sure that Zipp is able to provide me with the fastest wheels in the coming years.

In 2012, you won the 70.3® World Championship and finished an impressive fourth in Kona despite a flat tire. What are your goals this year?
The main goal still is improvement. Then the results will come, too. The main goal is to win Kona one day, of course. But I know that sometimes a goal looks very close but the closer you get the slower you move. The last steps are always the hardest.

You were born in 1984 so are still under 30. Historically Kona champs have been over 30. Is that related to the physiological demands and the need for experience? 
I think there are two reasons for this. Triathlon is still a very young sport. Now we see the first generation who trained in the sport. Now there are a lot of coaches who have the experience from the last generation. There will be improvement in times, and we already see them. But for long course it is still a lot about experience, patience and balance.

I know that are points where I improved a lot during the last year. The problem for a young athlete with a lot of power is that he want’s to show it and to use it. But that is the way to really destroy your race. Trust me, I tried it!

You’ve ridden Zipp wheels including the 808 Firecrest, as well as some of our rivals’ wheels. How would you describe your experience with Zipp wheels?
I was not looking for a partner regarding wheels in the last years because with wheels you could make a significant difference. Then I realized I chose Zipp wheels for more and more races. So I thought, OK, let’s make it official instead of buying them! The biggest difference is, for sure, the handling in crosswinds. Deep aero wheels have the biggest benefit in strong crosswind situations, but if you are forced to go out of the aerobars every time because you can’t handle them you don’t have any benefit at all. This is where Zipp makes the difference. You are able to handle deeper wheels in stronger crosswinds.

You’re known to really shred it on the bike. For your overall success, how important is it to optimize performance in the swim and on the run?
The race is still won on the run because it is the last discipline, and I think I constantly improved here over the last years. Swimming is my weak spot, and so I’m forced to use my strength on the bike to reduce damage before I could use it as a weapon. I have to change this -- if I lose less time in the water I have more options regarding my race tactic and I could put more pressure on the others. The good thing with my bike performance is that it was always that I didn't have to put a ton of work in it. Four years ago I never rode my bike from September through January. Of course, now that’s changed!

We have to ask you about your pass on the bike at 70.3 worlds. The video is on your website and is pretty incredible to watch. Were you anaerobic? Was that planned?
I think it looks a lot more impressive than it really was. Everybody was watching each other at this moment in the group. It was downhill and the group was not too fast. I hoped that some of the other strong cyclists want to go with me. When I realized that I’m on my own I thought, OK, if you don’t want to look like a clown you have to finish what you started.

Quick questions:
You list cooking as a hobby. Your specialty dish:

Best music for running:
Run fast with fast music

Favorite Zipp product:
Zipp Super-9 Carbon Clincher Disc

Advice to other triathletes:
Don’t take it too serious

Follow ‎‏@SebastianKienle on Twitter