cyclist triathlon triathlete fitness

Valentin is a French athlete who worked hard to get to full distance level. He talks to Sundried about the highs and lows of racing.

Have you always been into sport?

I started cycling at the age of 8 on a mountain bike. In the early days, I cycled with my father and then progressed to cycling with a club and competing.

When I was older, I went to military school where I learned swimming and running. I was training in all three sports, but took a short break while I focused on my studies. Once I finished school, I had more time on my hands and started road cycling and eventually triathlon.

How did you first get into triathlon?

I've been into all three sports most of my life and always knew I'd naturally progress to triathlon. I've now been competing for 4 years.

What has been your favourite race to date and why?

My favourite race was my first (and only for now) full distance triathlon, Challenge Roth. Firstly, because it was a childhood dream to complete a full distance race. For many years I wondered how it was possible to complete a race with such distances. Each part of the race seems to be a challenge!

The day of the race, everything went perfectly. I swam exactly to my expectation. For the bike section, I followed my plan letter by letter (nutrition, hydration and speed). For me, the most impressive part was the run section, because depending how you feel, it could feel like hell and go on forever! Thanks to a good bike section, I was able to run as I wanted. I was not the fastest but I ran without walking to the finish.

The icing on the cake was that my whole family were at the finish line and I could share that incredible moment with them.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was completing a full distance triathlon after only 3 years. In my first year of competing, I only did Olympic distance to get myself used to it. In the second year, I started to extend the distance by doing my first half Ironman while also continuing with Olympic distance. In my third year I did a half Ironman in preparation for the full distance.

Have you ever had any racing disasters?

My first 70.3 in Aix en Provence (South of France). In general, when we think about the South of France in late spring, we imagine perfect race conditions with sun…but this race had happened differently.

Everything was fine until I reached 50km of the bike section, when it started raining. It was quite cold for that time of year - only 13 degrees Celsius - and with the addition of the rain it felt like only 8 or 9 degrees. At my low body weight and in a light trisuit, I definitely felt the cold. 

From that moment on, my only objective was to cross the finish line alive. I’ve never been more frozen in my life. In addition to the rainy conditions, the road was totally waterlogged, with up to 10cm of rain in places.

I was thrilled to finish the bike without any incidents because by the end I was not able to brake effectively due to my frozen fingers!

The running section was 2 hours of running like a zombie. It was impossible to warm up and I felt like I had hypothermia. I alternated walking and running. For the last 8km, I was handed a survival blanket (like a lot of other participants). Thanks to this blanket, I crossed the finish line! Never give up!

How do you overcome setbacks?

I’m an optimistic person, and in all situations I try to stay focused on the bright side. I would say that I learn from my mistakes. I think in a sport like triathlon, there are too many things that could go wrong to always have the perfect race (especially over long distances). Everybody makes mistakes, but we should focus on not repeating them.

What are your goals?

For me, the most important thing is to enjoy it, and often we forget that. Sport in general has to be treated like a game. When we have this attitude, we can continue for a long time, otherwise it's tempting to quit when things get tough. 

Who inspires you?

A person like Jan Frodeno who is able to be Olympic champion (so over short distance) and a few years later become Ironman World Champion. 

Why work with Sundried?

I decided to work with Sundried for many reasons. The first being the sustainability of the brand. Nowadays, I think that too few brands are worried about their ecological footprint and I’m confident that we need to change that. 

The second reason is the design and the fit. I find the cycling collection very professional with a good balance between price and quality.