As XTERRA steadily marches towards the biggest race in the European season on August 3rd – the XTERRRA European Championship in Czech Republic – a young Frenchman has also been steadily making his way to the top.
Sometimes known as one of “the two Arthurs,” Arthur Forissier has been making his own name as an XTERRA elite to watch. In 2017, at the age of 23, Forissier placed 11th at the XTERRA World Championship in Maui. A broken collarbone sidelined him last year but judging by his performance on the XTERRA European Tour this year, he is fitter – and faster - than ever.
Currently third in the XTERRA European Standings, after placing second to the “other” Arthur (Serrieres) in April, Forissier has been undefeated. He won XTERRA Italy – Lake Garda in May, where he beat Serrieres by over two minutes, won XTERRA Switzerland in June for the third year in a row, and then won XTERRA France, where he again beat Serrieres as well as three-time XTERRA World Champ, Ruben Ruzafa, who had a five-year winning streak at the race. In April, Forissier also won the ITU Cross Tri World Title in Spain.
But the unassuming Forissier doesn’t really care about his ranking.
“I never have a ranking goal,” he said. “The most important thing for me is to have no regrets when I cross the finish line. That means that during the race I’m ready to push as hard as I can to win every second I can win. Each race is a battle against me. But I also love races with a huge pro field, like at the XTERRA European Championship.”
As much as any other XTERRA athlete out there, Forissier shows up to race because of a pure love of the sport.
“I tried many different sports, but I fell in love with triathlon when I was 16, even though I could barely swim 25 meters,” he said. “Then I met Christophe Bastie, who is now my coach. And since 2011, I have trained a lot and tried to improve. And the more I train, the more I love it.”
Unlike many athletes, Forissier doesn’t have a favorite of the three sports.
“I love everything, including the transitions. And even though the swim is the toughest for me, I really enjoy to swim. For me, triathlon is good because of everything.”
While he didn’t come to triathlon as a strong swimmer, Forissier attributes his win over both Ruzafa and Serrieres in France in part because of his determination in the water.
“Objectively, in the race I had better transitions, a better bike, and a better run,” said Forissier about XTERRA France. “I stayed close to Ruben in the water and the same with Arthur Serrieres. We swam together, we were together on the bike, and we ran very close to each other. For me, I’m strong because I never give up. I trust myself and I do all I can during both training and racing to be the best athlete I can be. But also, I still have many things to improve to be truly proud of myself.”
This seems to be Forissier’s attitude towards his life as well. In addition to his own training, he trains athletes in triathlon and teaches sport science at the renowned Universite Jean Monnot in Saint Etienne.
“But I also manage to have enough time in the day to cook and eat really well, take a nap, and of course spend time with family and friends.”
The free-spirited athlete is obviously extremely disciplined in his training but has a joyful approach to each day.
“I have no rules,” said Forissier. “There is no normal day and that’s what I love. Most of the time I wake up when I want and eat what I want. Sometimes I train only one hour very easy and sometimes, I have eight hours of training with a lot of intensity. I’m never bored. If I have free time, I wash my beautiful bike and call my friends for dinner.”
Forissier will take this same attitude into the XTERRA European Championship in the Czech Republic next weekend where he plans to do battle on the dirt on Saturday in the championship race and then come back on Sunday for the short race. The 11th stop on the 15-stop XTERRA European Tour will dish out $30,000 in prize money and 51 qualifying spots into XTERRA Worlds for amateurs. The championship race features a 1500-meter swim in Kristanovicky Lake and continues with a challenging 35-kilometer mountain bike through Sumava National Park. The bike course finishes in the city center of Prachatice, where competitors are cheered on by hundreds of fans. Finally, the 10.5-kilometer run course will take place both in the city streets as well as the forest and finishes next to the Statue of Justice on the Great Square of Prachatice, adding another measure of old European tradition.
New this year, the race will also include a new XTERRA ShortTrack format, giving the top 20 men and top 15 women in Saturday’s race to test their skills the following day on a short, fast, and dynamic course. The ShortTrack race on Sunday, August 4th will consist of a 400-meter swim which will take place in Kristanovicky Lake. The 14-kilometer bike course consists of three, 3.5-kilometer laps of a steep route full of obstacles. The run is only 4-kilometer and will also consist of three, 1.3-kilometer laps.
Forissier will have his work cut out for him. XTERRA Czech Republic is often considered the birthplace of XTERRA in Europe, because of the first race there in 2002. Like XTERRA Belgium, XTERRA Czech Republic is also famous for its exuberant after-parties and fantastic atmosphere.
Last year, Ruben Ruzafa cruised to an easy win over 2017 XTERRA World Champ, Brad Weiss, and if Ruzafa’s victory at XTERRA Italy- Scanno last weekend is any indication of his fitness, Forissier may have the battle of his dreams next weekend against the king of the mountain bike.
True to form, Forissier is looking forward to the challenge.
“I can’t wait to be on the short race on Sunday because it will be a mix of speed and fun.”
Forissier is also looking beyond the XTERRA European Championship and towards the XTERRA World Championship in Maui in October.
“I was disappointed to miss the XTERRA World Championship last year because of my broken collarbone,” he said. “But I’m already focused on this year’s race.”
But in true “Arthur” tradition, he plans to have a great time in Hawaii.
“My ultimate dream is to be able to continue to play sports with my friends until my death. I dream of learning new techniques, new disciplines, and progress. I dream of never getting injured and always having fun with the people I love.”