Versailles Sprint – Preparation

With the first open water sprint Triathlon at Versailles at the end of the week, I thought it would be useful to give you a run through of what to expect and a little checklist. To give you a flavour of the day have a read of last years blog.

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Ladies and non-licensed men

The last thing you want to do before a triathlon is rush the set-up, so we will aim to get there for the time the “parc à vélo” / “transition” / “bike rack” opens – which is 9am.

We will pick up numbers / chips etc… at this time as well, but normally this only takes a minute.

Only competitors are allowed into transition, and normally the bike has to have its number stickers already attached, and the competitor must be wearing their bike helmet and dossard – which must be attached with at least 3 pins / points of attachment.  Getting all this sorted before you hit the entry queue is a good idea to avoid hold-ups

Once you are into transition, you look for the space with your number (the one on your dossard Jo) and once you have found it you install the bike on the rack normally hanging by the saddle (this is known as ‘racking your bike’)

Now its time to prepare your area, normally good to have a small towel to put by the bike to ‘mark out your zone’ and on this towel lay out your running and cycling shoes (unless you put them on your bike) – set-up the rest of your gear for the competition as you like, just remember you will be rushing through this part, so make sure everything is easily accessible and easy to get at.

Once everything seems prepared (check to see what others around you are doing in case you missed something) and give your bike a final check (tyre pressure – I will bring a big pump) **At Versailles the start is on an incline so its a good idea to leave the bike in a ‘hill climbing gear’ to make a quick get-a-way**

Then slip (or struggle) into your wetsuit, goggle and swim cap in hand, and pack everything else you don’t need into a bag to be given to your support crew or put into the consignes (bag check)

At this point we should be around 10am and its time to just relax, a gentle stroll down to the waters edge and the race briefing at 10:15am (everyone will gather for this) note one of the benefits of triathlon, and specifically the wearing of a wetsuit is that pre-race nerves (which often result in a build-up of pressure in the bladder region) can be easily discharged while standing listening to the briefing. They key at this point really is just to relax.

Then its into the fresh water to ‘acclimatise’ for 5 mins, and then you are off – its always mayhem at the start, you will learn to enjoy it 😉 Remember if you are in the middle of everybody you will get dragged along by the current, so its easier – however you may also get the odd elbow in your face. If you decide to stay at the back you will have to contend with the ‘breast stroke crew’ and could potentially get a foot in the face – you make your choice you take your chance. If you have been practicing swimming in Paris’s municipal pools, you are well prepared for all eventualities.

My advice – forget about everyone else and just remember to swim, ignore other, swim over them, swim around them, do not get flustered by the other people, just SWIM

Once out of the swim its a short jog to get your bike, as you are jogging along you remove your goggles and swimcap and undo your wetsuit – its worth practising doing this a few times as doing it while running can cause issues – its also handy at this point to a) remember your number b) remember where your bike was (left lane / right lane) – perhaps remind yourself of all of this as you are coming to the end of the swim.

For a blow by blow account of a transition take a look at this page.

At the bike, pull off the rest of your wetsuit, sling it over the rack next to your bike (but not so that it drips onto your run shoes) then put on your bike shoes (no socks needed adrian) then helmet and dossard (facing back) – NOTE – you do not touch your bike until you have the helmet on and done up (yellow card offense) and jog with your bike up the transition to the ‘bike start line’ (there will be a referee) and once over that line you can jump on the bike and pedal to you hearts content !

The ride will be a bit blowy, but the course is relatively easy – you go into the Citroën testing ground, and its there where you can really get an advantage by riding in packs with other competitors and drafting them, so its quite a technical ride and the course can get a little confusing as its 2 loops round the course. Its a good idea to have a water bottle already on your bike, with energy drink (or water) take little sips while on the ride. Then its back to the transition, where once again you will see a line this time its the ‘bike end line’ make sure you are off your bike before this line (referee will be there) but don’t touch your helmet until your bike is safely racked back where you got it from.

Then its a simple case of swapping shoes, and then jogging through transition again to complete the bike part (bringing your dossard round to the front while you are moving). If you normally use a GPS watch while running now is the time to slip it on. The run itself is pretty fun – 2 laps around the lake you just swam in (yes thats 2 laps Suzie) slight incline at one end, forest paths but well maintained. You may want to take a gel with you onto the run to give you a little boost of energy as its only 5km in total so take it straight away – first around the course is the winner 😉

After the race is done, everyone goes back to collect bike / wetsuit etc… then meet back down at a designated meeting spot (will be near the finish) we plan to take food and drink down which should hopefully arrive as you are all finishing, and so weather permitting we will be able to have a picnic or a rain-soaked lunch, hopefully as well the licensed men will be joining us, because at 14h its their turn to rack and 15:30 they will show you how the Professionals do!!

Essential Item Checklist


Tri-suit (team kit available here)

Wetsuit (+ body glide if required)



Towel(s)(small for transition, large for after, or medium to use for both !)

Bike Shoes

Bike Helmet

Sun / Bike glasses

Tri-belt for dossard / Safety pins

Running Shoes

Water bottle for bike

Warm clothes for after – TEAM HOODY !!

Bag to put it all in