TriStar Cannes was my first race from TriStar series. It was quite a bit different from other races I’ve done and location played a huge role in it. Cannes is full of glamour and organizers wanted to make triathlon as a sport look more glamorous. There were some celebrities racing (four F1 drivers, Paul Belmondo, Stephane Diagana…). You could see things that you won’t see at other triathlon races. Like a guy at race check in who was escorted by flight crew from his private jet, or a fashion show on after race party.
I’m not a huge fan of glamour as all I can think of when I look at Cannes harbour is that you could feed two Africas with the worth of those ships. But I think it’s nice to have a race like this. It makes triathlon look a bit better in the eyes of the general public.
I’m usually nervous about the swim, but when I saw the size of the waves I started to look forward to it. Not sure why because as a bad swimmer I’d lose even more time in those conditions. Maybe I should take up surfing when I finish with triathlon. Bigger waves were breaking on the rocks that protect the harbor so judges decided to cancel the swim for safety reasons. Other problem was that there was only one buoy left. Others were probably somewhere around Marseille. It would be quite challenging to round them, not to mention navigation problems.
The race started with barefoot run in wetsuits. I made it to T1 in the first group for the first time in my short career. My game plan was to take it a bit easier until the hills on the bike course. It was very slippery so we were all very cautious. Andy Fuchs crashed in front of me early on and that made me even more careful. Chabaud went around me on the first climb and I decided to follow him until my legs fall off. He’s one of the best triathletes on a course like this so at least I wanted to see how much I still have to improve to get to his level. It wasn’t easy but I held his pace. At one point he dropped his jacket and went back to pick it up and I never saw him again. A little later Marceau came around. I don’t know why but I just let him go without even trying to follow him. Turns out this was a big mistake. Then I rode with Faure for a while. He won Embrunman 3 times and has a course record there so I thought I must be going well. Especially when he started slowing down and when he dropped back. From that point on (30. km) I was on my own.
With two pre-race favorites behind me (Chabaud and Faure) I thought I must be going well. French guys were shouting splits but in French. I know 2 or 3 words of French but they haven’t used those. Somehow I thought I was in 3rd or 4th position with 2:30 min gap. Last section of the course was through the city and I didn’t like that part. Sometimes it felt like I was part of some illegal race as I had to navigate my way through traffic. If they improve this next year the race will be excellent.
We had two out and back loops on the run. Romain Guillaume came running from the other direction way sooner than I expected. So, the win is out of reach, said my overly optimistic inner voice. A little later I saw a big group of six guys. This is how I felt:
Turns out Guillaume was alone with 5 minute lead to the big group and I was further 6 minutes behind. Too much to make up in 10km. I tried to motivate myself as I knew a very fast run would still make me happy, no matter the final position. But I was stuck in one gear. Nothing bad about having only one gear if it’s a fast one, but that was not the case. My position hasn’t changed until the finish line.
I hope I don’t sound too negative. Sometimes it can sound like I’m being disrespectful to the guys that beat me, but that’s not my intention. I just write what I feel. The thing is I always set big goals and when that’s the case failures happen often. But it’s not something that makes me depressed, it just motivates me to work harder. I don’t start thinking that I should throw my bike into the sea and buy a surf board. Instead of that I feel like asking organizer if we can do it all over again as I think I can do much better. Now I’ll have to wait until next race to prove that I’m faster than this.