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IRONMAN explain ground-breaking Horseau decision as French star handed Nice wild card

Frenchman added to Nice field after unprecedented decision.

News Director
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IRONMAN have explained why Arthur Horseau has been added to the list of qualifiers for the first-ever men’s IRONMAN World Championship to be held in Nice next month, calling it “very much a first of its kind” decision.

The Frenchman of course should have qualified automatically by virtue of his IRONMAN Lanzarote victory – which saw him set run and overall course records.

But as Kevin Mackinnon – who did both the voiceover for the professional pre-race briefing and MC’d the rolldown ceremony – explained at the time when writing for Triathlon Magazine Canada, Horseau was 20 minutes late for the latter and “so his spot ended up going to Denmark’s Oliver Martinussen”.

That outcome prompted completely unwarranted criticism on social media for Martinussen and left IRONMAN with a potentially tricky call to make.

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IRONMAN reveal Horseau rationale

We’ve kept in touch with them ever since then and they’ve now explained the thinking behind this decision – and also hinted that the traditional process could be changed going forward.

An IRONMAN spokesperson told TRI247: “With qualifying over, the team did award a slot to Arthur as the IM Lanzarote champion and this is very much a first of its kind. We waited until end of qualifying, as we did not want in any way for this to set precedent for other athletes.

“The rationale from the team was:

  • While he was late, he did not completely blow off the slot ceremony and was en route.
  • He had made it clear that he intended to accept the slot after he won the event.
  • He addressed and apologized publicly to those who were undeservedly being attacked.
  • He made his best effort to qualify at another race by lining up at IM France. A stomach virus caused him to DNF.

‘They were very understanding’

Horseau himself reacted to the welcome news by telling us: “I’m so happy with the IRONMAN decision. We’ve been in discussion since the awards ceremony in Lanzarote and they were very understanding during the process.

“It wasn’t the easiest way to recover right after an Ironman but I’m glad that I was able to resume training soon after the race. In my head I was convinced that I would race the IRONMAN WC in September.”

Arthur Horseau wins IRONMAN Lanzarote 2023 [Photo credit: James Mitchell / Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote]
[Photo credit: James Mitchell / Club La Santa IRONMAN Lanzarote]

And as the race in Nice comes into focus, Horseau has once again underlined his form with a victory – in a record time – at Embrunman earlier this week.

He said of that: “It went very well, even better than expected! I was in my big training block to prepare for Nice and was really amazed by my capacity to perform in those conditions. A lesson learned for the upcoming races is that tapering might not be what I need the most.

“Obviously it has an impact on my motivation to execute a good performance on a course like Nice. That said, it’s going to be my first IRONMAN World Championship and racing with such a big density of top elite athletes is something that I need to learn to do. We’ll see how I cope with that in September!”

And as an interesting footnote, the IRONMAN spokesperson added: “We are also looking into how slot allocation for pros works moving forward as we do want to limit the potential for unfortunate scenarios like this to play out in the future.”

All of which is why our list of qualifiers now has 56 names rather than 55 as we countdown to the showdown on the French Riviera in just under a month’s time.

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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