Franck Bignet – Dir. HP for FFTri > the (final) update about the objectives for the French team in WTS.

Just a few days before the return of the world circuit WTS ITU, Trilogies took time to speak with Franck Bignet as he is the DTN of FFTri. After two mandates, he’ll give the reins to his successor with a still very promising French team. In this game of perpetual questioning where answers may never be found, Franck always managed to enlighten us.

What changes have been made after Rio OG in the structure? Do you feel that the design brief to succeed at an Olympic level is still in evolution?

The day after the Rio OG and PG, federation established a statement to the Ministry Of Sports and open the Federal States of High Performance Sport. The purpose was to mobilize all federal actors (athletes, coaches, technical advisers in Leagues, federal or regional elected, etc.) to listen and integrate them to the 2017-2024 performance project at best.

All of this requires time of implementation in a special context with territorial and federal elections the 18th of March and the change of the DTN in the weeks to come. Despite all of this, triathletes, their staff and national coaches are already focused on this new upcoming season that has begun or some of them at the Cape Town world cup.

Does the design brief always evolves? Obviously, since it’s always the athletes that decide.

You better be from the side of those who decide than those who follow. Federation has to accompany and train decision-makers, which means those who influence races.

In this pursuit of understanding what’s missing, is the bike, the weakness of the French team?

I don’t think we shouldn’t generalize. For a decade, identified triathletes do physiologic evaluations every single year. And tests are all the same. They allow us to measure individual progress and compare data between athletes. We launched a research project in order to improve and use better this data base we have for 15 years.

Beyond physiologic aspects, we emphasized on the steering with the venue of an expert on the firsts national reunions.

Athletes have to take this dual dimension better into account. This goes through concrete actions on the field coupled to a stronger speech form the national coaches.

We are, as we say in a “post-Olympic” year so should we expect a kind of relaxation in terms of performance and race density?

The management of a carrier is an essential element for an athlete in its durability and his ability to perform.

A federation adapts itself to every moment an athlete is in. It possibly is a “post-Olympic” year only or Olympic-selected athletes.

But some athletes shouldn’t already feel an emergency? Because in facts, if it is always the same that seem to be at the front it is also because it is them that are the more experienced and we usually see on podiums…

I wouldn’t talk about emergency, but each day has to contribute. We need to be fully aware of this. It is essential to accept that Olympic success comes with the consistency of results in the WTS.  There are nearly thirty of them until Tokyo 2020.

Let’s talk about the French team, with Luis, Le Corre, Coninx, we feel that these athletes have to continue to get maturity…

Pierre and Dorian had a lack of consistency before Rio. They knew how to raise their level of competitiveness with podiums and many tops 6, but they also experience weakness a few times.

About Vincent, he knew how to build his step up until April 2016. He’ll come back in the WTS this week-end to evaluate himself.

Obviously, there are young athletes that come up, all the time, but with these 3, we can already affirm that these athletes have the necessary talent to pretend to a medal in 4 years, have they ?

I hope they will, but at this stage of the Olympiad, I also wish other athletes you don’t name, to succeed.

We’ll see in 2019 and then, 2020. We’re still far from the next Olympic term, and it’s hard to predict everyone’s path for the next 4 years. It is actually Justin the early 2019 that the Olympic race will start. Until then, each athlete will have to be at their best in the world level in 2019. Depending on their age, past results, experience in the WTS, they will be more or less advanced in their process, and priorities and goals won’t always be the same.

France is a nation known to align young athletes in WTS. Could this be different in 2017? And by the way, who could be these new athletes making their first steps in WTS?

I don’t share your feelings. How old was Cassandre Beaugrand when she started her first WTS? 17 yo and 2 months. Dorian Coninx made his entrance in the circuit at the age of 20, Raphaël Montoya at 19 years and 6 months old and Audrey Merle aged of 19 yo and 10 months.

Age is not a criteria to go in WTS. What is important is to know why and which “weapons” you go with? Take the start in WTS is not an end in itself but a way to evaluate yourself at the best international level.

The ETU-ITU calendar is dense enough to be able to prepare each one of them to the international competition. WTS form an integral part of the development process. *

I also think that we should maintain a capacity to win in its own category. Winning is something to learn!

With training groups are more and more international, we see agreements between athletes from different races during races. These athletes seems to agree to “serve” others. Frenchies seems to be more isolated… Isn’t it something to considerate in the future?

Ever organization has its strengths and weaknesses. The federation is open to every form of organization provided that it sticks to a pattern of performance. Laurent Vidal opened a path by going in the southern hemisphere.

Toda, they all have a structure that suits them. A few examples… Vincent has his group in Reims; Dorian and Léo Bergère collaborate with Raphaël Mailharrou in Grenoble since this winter and other as the women (Cassandre, Audrey Léonie Periault, Sandra Dodet, and Emilie Morier) are in Montpellier in the training center with Stéphanie Deanaz.

But the French team could also have common tactic, don’t you think?

We shouldn’t forbid us anything. There are race alliances, national team tactics. We tried in 2015 at the Edmonton WTS with Raoul Shaw and for the Chicago Grand Final with Anthony Pujades who was only there to favour Vincent’s results. This went unnoticed, because there was no effect on the final results of Vincent.

The absence of some female athletes for 2017 season, makes us feel that profiles of swimmers and cyclists as Flora Duffy, but also British athletes as Lucy Hall could easily become the new standard. Will the French team have to redefine because of that?

Our Frenchies are young. They have, like men, to win with consistency before thinking to play first roles with elites.

High performance triathlon evolved show us today that an athlete as to be entire, and that any failure can be paid the full price in competition and that you have to be ready to win not in one and only scenario but in any race dynamics, on every course,  and in any meteorological conditions.

What should we wait from French female and male athletes for 2017? Is the world ranking a real priority?

As I said earlier, some triathletes showed us an ability to perform in WTS with top 6 and podiums. The purpose for them is to be more consistent and then, do podiums more frequently in the whole variety of consistency that triathlon races offer. Rotterdam, as the Grand Final is the main goal of the season.

When we know that the final WTS ranking mostly depends on the capacity of performing in the Grand Final and in the regularity in WTS, we can say, then, that the world ranking is a real goal.

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