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Inside Tri’s 10 Most Influential People For 2012: #7

  • By T.J. Murphy
  • Published Dec 13, 2012
Photo: Jeff Clark

They’re inspirational, powerful and changing the sport of triathlon from the inside out.

The staff at Inside Triathlon asked: Which 10 people had the most influence on triathlon in the United States in 2012?

Our list, ranked in order of impact, was chosen based on 2012 happenings—not based on influence since the creation of triathlon. It reflects the group of people who are directing the future of the sport, are changing the general perception of the sport—positively or negatively—or are molding the minds within the sport. Read about 8, 9 and 10 here, find out who #7 is below and check back throughout the next two weeks to find out our complete list. Don’t want to wait? The complete list is in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Inside Triathlon, on newsstands now.

#7: Mark Cote
“The Engineer”

Although the connection between Specialized and triathlon has a solid past, it’s only been in recent years the company has fully committed its culture and resources to triathlon. In 2011 this was radiantly clear with the launch of the pure triathlon version of the Shiv. As Joe Lindsey wrote for Bicycling, “The new Shiv is, to my knowledge, the first major frame design to be produced with triathlon exclusively in mind.”

The company’s embrace of triathlon has been a dream of a talented aerodynamics specialist at Specialized, Mark Cote. Cote grew up a triathlete and cut his engineering teeth in the Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel while attending MIT. Along with working with the team that developed the triathlon-specific Shiv, Cote’s piled up more than 150 triathlon finishes in his racing career.

“We have a lot of really passionate triathletes at Specialized,” Cote says. “The Shiv was a vision reflecting that.”

That vision, Cote says, is developing a bike from the ground up with the triathlete in mind—instead of producing a time-trial bike for roadies that gets marketed for triathletes, where the triathlete has to use “zip ties and Velcro” to adapt the bike fully toward a triathlon.

“A triathlete has unique needs compared to a time trialist,” Cote explains. “A triathlete doesn’t have a team car. A triathlete has to swim, bike and run. Triathletes have to fuel themselves. Their shifting needs are unique. Their travel needs are unique.”

Look for Cote’s passion for triathlon to continue to send ripples through the sport. With the success of the Shiv and Specialized athletes like Craig Alexander, the new triathlon product development team—no longer an adjunct to the road cycling group—has the proverbial wind at its back at the Morgan Hill, Calif., headquarters. “Our goal,” says Cote, “is to step the industry up.”

Path to Influence

1995 | Participates in his first multisport event, the Worchester Youth Triathlon in Worchester, Mass., at the age of 10.

2007 | Receives B.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT. Takes job at Specialized in November. A new commitment to triathlon begins to “resonate” at Specialized.

2010 | Specialized commits to the Shiv project and a global triathlon team.

2012 | Specialized bikes are gaining popularity among triathletes—of the top 10 brands from the Kona bike counts, Specialized made the biggest jump between 2011 and 2012.

Photos: 2012 Specialized Shiv

Guess who’s #6 on our list based on his Path to Influence:

1981 | Races in the Hawaii Ironman.

1987 | Launches Quintana Roo and puts the first triathlon wetsuit on the market.

1989 | Releases the first triathlon-specific racing bike.

1995 | Sells QR to Saucony and remains in charge of the bike division until 1999.

1999 | Launches Slowtwitch.com.

2003 | Launches F.I.S.T., a bike fit system for triathletes.

2010 | Becomes a founding member of Triathlon America, rebranded in 2012 as Triathlon Business International.

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