Castelli PR Speed Suit Soars In Kona

By Tom Ballard – 30 October 2019

Cameron Wurf and Laura Philipp take top honours on the bike while Timothy O'Donnell puts Castelli on the podium at the Ironman World Championships.

Earlier this month, the Ironman World Championships returned to Kona for the 41st year where Castelli athletes put in superb performances to top the male and female bike splits and score second and fourth overall.

A wind-chopped sunrise swim in Kailua Bay’s stunning turquoise water saw a pack of nine swimmers get away from the main pack – including previous podium-getter Timothy O’Donnell of the USA. When it came to the trailing athletes, all eyes were on Cameron Wurf, the Kona bike course record holder, who exited the surf five minutes behind the leaders.

While O’Donnell, who was wearing a custom-printed Castelli All Out Speed Suit, hung tough with the likes of Jan Frodeno and Alistair Brownlee during the bike leg, Wurf was quickly making his mark on two wheels. 

Tim O'Donnell Kona 2019

A former pro cyclist and training partner of Chris Froome, Wurf worked with Castelli on the development of the Italian brand’s latest tri apparel masterpiece – the PR Speed Suit. The suit’s R&D began in 2016 in partnership with the Norwegian Technical University in Trondheim where the combination of great minds and on-site wind tunnels, rapid prototyping capabilities and CFD analysis meant the perfect environment for optimising speed.

The result is a suit so fast that it would be illegal in UCI competition, but with no such restrictions in triathlon, Castelli has been free to push aerodynamic advantage to the next level.

Key to the suit’s performance is a set of silicone speed ribs that line the arms. These trip-wires for air induce turbulence to reduce drag on one of the most exposed parts of the body – giving a real advantage for athletes clocking speeds around 27mph. 

Cameron Wurf in the wind tunnel

Elbow-length sleeves are joined by knee-length legs for maximum aerodynamics while also supporting quads and hamstrings on the run. The PR Speed Suit’s torso is made from a skin-hugging, technical fabric that protects from the sun, but wicks fast to keep you cool. There’s also a full-length zip for extra air while the section covering the abdominals isn’t sewn to the shorts, making heeding calls of nature so much easier. There are also two large, aero-friendly pockets that’ll hold plenty of nutrition.

Of course, when it comes to the pad, Castelli hasn’t cut corners. The Kiss Air Tri seatpad is plush and smooth, giving excellent comfort and support on the bike without becoming at all cumbersome on the run.

All these ingredients came to the fore in 2018, when the PR Speed Suit’s unparalleled performance was proven in its Kona debut, Wurf setting a new bike course record of 04:09:06.

Fast forward a year and despite tougher conditions than in 2018, with crosswinds whisking wheels from side to side, the PR Speed Suit helped Wurf rip through the 112-mile bike course and move up to third place with a 04:14:44 split, the fastest again this year. The Australian came off the bike just behind fellow Castelli athlete O’Donnell, whose consistency was certainly paying dividends on the big day. 

Tim O'Donnell Kona 2019

Wurf wasn’t the only rider benefitting from Castelli’s latest design, though – it was a similar story in the women’s race for Kona first-timer Laura Philipp. The rising German star came out the water in 14th place, 10 minutes behind uber-swimmer Lucy Charles-Barclay but soon made her presence felt on the bike. Just like Wurf, Philipp set the day’s fastest bike time, blitzing along the Queen K highway to cross the dismount line in 04:45:04 having moved up to fifth place.

Tim O'Donnell Kona 2019

In the men’s race, Tim O’Donnell continued an exceptional day in the heat and humidity of Hawaii to hold firm in second, running a 02:49:45 marathon to cross the line behind Jan Frodeno and go sub-eight hours – one of only four men ever to have achieved such a feat. Meanwhile, Wurf showed his improved leg speed on the run, coming fifth with a creditable 02:55:03 marathon.

Meanwhile, Phillip continued a stellar performance by anyone’s standards, let alone a Kona rookie. The German powerhouse ran a very solid 03:02:11 to take fourth place all the way to the line. 

Tim O'Donnell Kona 2019

The PR Speed Suit is part of the Castelli Spring/Summer 2020 and will be available to help the fastest triathletes go even faster in next year’s big races.