World Triathlon Podcast #88: Vincent Luis - out of the cage

29 February, 2024 | espaƱol

World Triathlon Podcast #88: Vincent Luis - out of the cage

Reunited full-time with his coach Joel Filiol, back on extended training camps with nothing more to think about than form and focus, the enormous carrot of a home Olympics now just five months away, the two-time World Champion Vincent Luis is ready to pounce on every opportunity 2024 sends his way.

Dialling in at the end of four weeks in Lanzarote and ready for the season opener in Abu Dhabi, Luis is open about the likelihood of this being his last full season of short course racing. The blue carpet will undoubtedly miss one of the greats, but as the 34-year-old reflects on his career on the latest episode of the World Triathlon Podcast, the feeling will be mutual.

Before any discussion of retirement, there is a season for the ages ahead of him. Injury may have seen him a mere spectator as teammates Dorian Coninx, Leo Bergere and Pierre Le Corre hoovered up the prizes in 2023, but the experience has left him hungry. Three spots available, four world-class athletes competing for them, one huge decision ahead for the selectors. All Luis wants to do is produce the results that mean, purely based on form, he can still be one of them.

Listen to the latest episode of the World Triathlon Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and wherever you subscribe to your podcasts.

Paris is calling

“Obviously it is a home Games, if we don’t do it now we will never do it,” says Luis as he analyses what lies ahead not just for him and his teammates but for French triathlon as a whole. There is no doubt that this can be the year that the sport – already hugely popular across the country - goes stratospheric. It feels like the billboards are waiting, it is just a question of which of the six athletes on the final team sheet will be on there.

After feeling pain in his calf just a few days before last August’s Test Event, the almost inevitable came as Luis was forced to pull up on the run. An MRI scan revealed a tear, and the season was done. An onlooker as Alex Yee powered to gold, he took time out and went on holiday around the time of the Championship Finals, but couldn’t help but watch the drama that unfolded in Spain as Coninx took the title in a dramatic sprint finish with Le Corre.

“I was on holidays, in a beautiful destination, and I watched this race. That was really tough… but I think it fuelled me for this winter, in a good way… in a sense that, well, in Abu Dhabi (2023) I was beating the guys that were at the front in Pontevedra, so that means I can still do it.”

“The next day I actually had a call from the French high performance director. I was really transparent with him. I told him I’m not gonna sell you anything right now. I’m not running, I’m doing my rehab and doing everything I can, and if you make a pick today then I’m not part of the team and I know it. But I told him to count on me to be strong when it counts a couple months before the Olympics, leave a door open for me and I’ll be there. I won’t disappoint you.”

Powerful words from a man who has a remarkable hit rate of 18 Series medals in 51 finishes over the years, the kind of ratio that an Olympic selection team would find very difficult to ignore. 

“I’ve raced against every Olympic champion we have seen. I’ve won races that were foot races and I’ve won races that were breakaways. I’ve never been the best swimmer, biker or runner, but I’ve always been there and that’s what triathlon is all about.”

As far as tacit warnings to his rivals go, a clear-headed, single-minded Vincent Luis is undoubtedly something to worry about. With the ultimate target of producing his famous fireworks at a home Games in Paris, that prospect grows even stronger. He first it the podium at the highest level in 2012. His last podium? Ten years later, with gold on one of the toughest courses out there, WTCS Bermuda. All the ingredients are there for one more slice of magic.

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