Looking at the new ETU calendar, we can see that no elite/u23/junior race will be taking part in France. Furthermore, it will be the same thing with ITU and WTS races. France are way behind Canada, which has 2 WTS races.
The French exception :
France is the only big nation which does not have any international races in 2017. With the European Sprint Championship in Chateauroux and the junior European cup in Aiguillon-sur-Mer, we thought France will enter a new era. Unfortunately, this major news does not seem to affect anyone.
For lack of anything better ?
We should not throw the ball to the organizers who have really given the best they can to organise such an event. The problem of holding an ETU/ITU event is its cost and such an investment can only be justified if a benefit follows.
Unfortunately, an elite race does not appear to be sufficient to attract sponsors if not all age groups are represented.
France has the advantage and the disadvantage of having the best domestic races with the Grand Prix. For the organizers, this level of competitions could bring more financial guarantees as it will gather some of the best triathletes in the word.
Organizing a European cup will attract mostly second-rate athletes or Emerging Athletes as Trilogies will prefer to call them.
In the case of an ITU race, the French federation considers that the event is too expensive and impossible to monetize. The French federation is probably not wrong at some point.
Again the United-States are absent from the World Series. Considering the number of licensees and the popularity of the triple sport in America, it demonstrates that there is not only a financial problem, but also cultural one.
Only a city like Paris could take up this huge challenge and win in this war of numbers. But what about la Baule?
What is the impact ?
Could the absence of ITU/ETU races on French soil bring a bad image to Triathlon?
This is a long debate in perspective. If the Grand Prix remains an interesting circuit for the development of an athlete, it might not be sufficient. But let’s be clear, the absence of ITU/ETU races in France did not prevent athletes like Dorian Coninx to get access to the World Series.
Grand Prix results are to be put in perspective: an athlete may have been helped by teammates and the world’s best athletes are not always in their best conditions. Since there is always a doubt in the level offered on these races, it could be difficult for emerging athlete to validate his/her results on other races like a European or a World Cup. Grand Prix are not substitute races to the Athlete’s personal development.
In 2017, ITU will offer over a dozen world cup races. This could have a negative effect on the number and quality of athletes participating to the Grand Prix. As a result, the domestic circuit should expect to see less international athletes at the start list, and may be less density. How the domestic circuit will have enough stamina against the World Cup?
But it does not stop there, the French junior will not have the opportunity anymore to shine at home against international athletes. And as we know the French has not always shown their loyalty to the European cup. However, in some cases, it is an obligation for the French
The junior European cup is an environment to tame for the future, since the athlete must learn to manage traveling in a non-francophone environment, and with a relative autonomy. In consequence, a junior must learn to lead and make decisions. During a Grand Prix, the junior athlete is faced with gauging himself against some of the best in the world which could sometimes discourage him.
The impact on culture
The real problem with the lack of ITU/ETU races in France is that all the others races will have less importance compare to the domestic circuit. As a result, less international entries to the races and less media exposure could have a negative effect on the sport.
In fact, some athletes have more of a financial interest in accumulating Grand Prix races than with international races. Does that mean it can slow down an athlete progression? For some athletes, it can be true.
But at the end, it is the athlete’s choice.
But the biggest problem remains media exposure. Since France has no ITU/ETU races, organizers are making less efforts to highlight those kinds of events. France rather put all its energies into the Grand Prix.
As an example, Felix Duchampt who ranked 4th and 7th place during the last 2 world cups has tried hard to get a spot in the World series. But without the support of the federation, his efforts went under the radar.
Besides, an athlete who is not from the French team, does not have the same advantage:
without the French Federal Communication, an athlete does not benefit the same media visibility, and he will have only few arguments to arouse the interest of sponsors. The investment is really risky. And in the end, everyone is losing.
Unfortunately, if there is not a desire to develop the interest of the elite among the fans, we should not be surprised if organizers say they are unsatisfied with the lack of popularity of their events.