Felix Forissier - The Silent Assassin

2023 has been a breakout year for the younger of the Forissier brothers, who only seems to grow calmer and more confident with every additional title he claims.

Written by
Sarah Bonner
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“Yeah, my mom is really happy,” Felix Forissier laughs. Recently crowned the World Triathlon Cross Triathlon World Champion, he brought home the world title after yet another dominant performance in Ibiza this past May, running himself into the lead to take a convincing win. It’s something he seems to be making a habit of recently. 

Disarmingly laid back about his accomplishment, Forissier explains winning big titles just makes him “happy” and doesn’t add any pressure. “I think for me, to have a world title doesn’t make more pressure, it’s the inverse,” he says. “When I have won a cool race, the next race is: you are ok, you already have a win.” 

Clearly, his method is working. Forissier went on to claim the XTERRA European Championship at Stop #3 of the XTERRA World Cup and then backed that up with another full distance win at Stop #4 in Czech, bumping him up to 3rd on the leaderboard and putting his World Cup campaign firmly back on track. With 2 full distance wins in a row and his brother out with a broken collar bone, he is easily one of the top picks to take the series. 

“I think for me, to have a world title doesn’t make more pressure, it’s the inverse.”

But his relaxed attitude isn’t fully explained by confidence and shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of engagement; it is, in fact, part of his competitive strategy. “When I have pressure on my mind, it's not a good thing for my race so I really try not to stress before the race.”



Self Discovery 

Finding a way to stay relaxed has actually meant finding his own way, which was something the 25 year-old Frenchman had to figure out. As the younger brother of Arthur Forissier—who was World Triathlon Cross Champion in 2019 and has won 3 out of 4 races he started this season alone —stepping off the path that guided him into XTERRA was a risky endeavor. Triathlon wasn’t something the younger Forissier was innately interested in pursuing. It was only a constant encouragement, perhaps nagging, from his older brother that he eventually, at 13 years old, “just did one.” 

“One day I did a triathlon, not for me but it was to make him happy,” Forissier says. His older brother was right, however, and Forissier decided to stay with the sport and follow along the same path. But his passion only came alive when he saw his brother racing off-road for the first time. “I was like, ‘Oh! I want to do the same! The competition with the mountain bike was really exciting."

Eventually, in 2019 he stepped into the elite rankings of XTERRA. While his brother was racking up win after win, Forissier saw modest but growing results. “At the beginning, he helped me and I was more confident when he was with me. He knew all the people and he would tell me, ‘you have to be careful here,’ or ‘ you need to do this.’ At the start, he really helped me.”

As his performances improved, so did his potential to have a stand out result at the XTERRA World Championship in 2022; but, the race proved to be a disappointment. “I had a bad competition and I was really not happy,” Forissier recalls. 

It was a word from the biggest name in the sport at the time, Arthur Serrières, that gave him what he needed to hear: “He said to me: I think next season you will be one of the competitive guys.” Hearing that gave Forissier both perspective, motivation, and the boost of confidence he needed—and it’s a moment that has stayed with him.

“He said to me: I think next season you will be one of the competitive guys.”

Now, Forissier is a name unto himself and part of that was building his own path to the top. While his brother finds success being part of the HEXATRI team, Forissier finds success training alone. Even when they go to the same races, his brother will travel with the team and Forissier will travel alone. “I don’t want to be in a team and I’m really good alone,” he says. “For me, it’s more simple.”

"I can do what I want when I want. When I have to train, I go to train and I don't have to do photoshoots or other team things—it’s not so complicated.”



Break Away

Keeping training and racing simple also meant making life outside of sport simple. Forissier finished his business studies and now only works 3 nights a week as a student resident monitor at a local school. Having full control over his schedule has also meant he has been able to see his girlfriend when he wants and train more hours. “This is the best situation for me,” he says simply. 

Going on ten years with his coach, Forissier trains 25 hours per week, doing 2-3 sports per day, every day. “I think I’m better at running but I take more pleasure in the bike. Swimming is not my friend,” he smiles. Still, he says his focus will be on improving his technical bike skills. “I can be stronger technically so the mountain bike is really, really important for me.”

While all the logistics and practices have been simplified and his training capacity has increased, the biggest change was in Forissier’s mindset. 

“Two years ago, I was crazy. I was a little crazy on the bike and I would do stupid things. I wanted to have fun. Now, I’m more focused, more serious, more professional.” As he leans back on the couch, finally it’s clear his relaxed attitude comes from a place of congruency and focus. Figuring out the best way for him to train and perform is exactly how he has found his competitive edge. 



World Cup Racing

His timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the launch of the XTERRA World Cup. “The World Cup is great because there are more strong athletes at every race,” he says. With more opportunities to race the best, Forissier has changed his race selections, opting for more World Cup races, more XTERRA events, and less classic road triathlons. As a member of a Divisions Nationales 1 (DN1) French triathlon team, Forissier also races at a high level on the road but with a higher level of competition at XTERRA, doing both is becoming less feasible. 

“If I want to be stronger at the World Cup, I have to train more specifically. I do 4-5 DN1 competitions but I think for next year I will only do three. The XTERRA World Cup is more important.” 

As the World Cup brings the best athletes together more frequently, Forissier says it has changed the race dynamics a little too. Now that athletes need to be more consistent throughout the season at different race venues, who he deems as his biggest competition can change. “It’s really complicated. At the start of the season, I’d say it was Serrières but we haven’t seen him… And all the races are different. If the bike is hard and long, we can see Carabin come to the front. If the bike is short, you can see Kocar come to the front. I think it can change a lot."

“If I want to be stronger at the World Cup, I have to train more specifically."

But for Forissier, the changing dynamics of the XTERRA World Cup is just what he loves. He lights up: “For me, it’s so much fun.”

Part of that fun is being able to race alongside his brother but these days Forissier doesn’t get the same racing advice from his older brother as used to. Now, after beating him to take a world title and the European championship, Forissier has leveled up. “I’m better,” he teasingly laughs.

Forissier is proving to be a bigger contender than ever before. At the start of the season he was touted as the name to watch in the first ever XTERRA World Cup, but a mechanical on the bike in Taiwan meant we would not see his true potential at Stop #1. But with back-to-back wins at Stop #3 and #4, it’s safe to say that he has more than lived up to the expectations and now becomes the name to beat heading into another double-feature race weekend at Stop #5 in Germany.













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Author Bio

Sarah Bonner

Sarah Kim Bonner (MA, PGDip, BA Hons) is a Canadian freelance writer, graphic designer, and professional triathlete. She has worked as a creative for over 10 years, specializing in written storytelling within endurance sports. Emotionally allergic to an office 9-5, she has lived and raced all over the world from the Arctic to Africa and now calls the Canary Islands home. Find her at www.sarahkimbonner.com or @sarahkimbonner.

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