Defending Hawaiian Ironman Champion Chris McCormack withdrew from the 2008 Hawaiian Ironman Championships when he snapped his front deraileur cable and was told it would take 20 minutes to fix it. Before we get into exactly how long it actually takes to fix a problem such as a broken front deraileur cable, I feel compelled to point out that in my last blog I wrote "Clearly, a major mechanical or a bad crash can end an athlete's chances..."
The question is, is a snapped front deraileur cable a 'major mechanical'? I could speculate for about 20 paragraphs, but until we know exactly what Chris' drive train setup was, it probably not worth wasting the bandwidth. One thing Chris could have tried was to move the front deraileur set screw all the way to the limit to see if he could just get the big chainring. On the Queen K highway, the top pros are probably riding the big ring the entire way except maybe for the last pull up to Havi.
Regardless of the reason for the mechanical, it just goes to show how critical it is to have your bike in absolutely perfect working order if you are trying to be at the head of the pack in any race. And in case you need a reminder, the day or the night before your event is not the time to be doing any major work on your bike. You might want to give your deraileurs and brakes a slight adjustment, but putting on a new chain and/or overhauling your crank or headset is definitely a no-no.
I am not passing judgment on Chris McCormack since I don't know all the details of his broken cable. However, his unfortunate situation is a good reminder that having your bike race-ready is just as critical as doing all those intervals.