In Profile: Lukas Salvisberg (SUI)
When the Swiss team upset the race favourites, Australia, to claim the ITU Triathlon Team World Championships in Des Moines, they had a lot to thank Lukas Salvisberg for. With Daniela Ryf riding through Emma Snowsill suddenly the Europeans had a chance of a medal, yet no one would have predicted that 21 year old Salvisberg could beat Commonwealth Champion, Brad Kahlefeldt in a straight head to head, but that’s exactly what he did.
Name: Lukas Salvisberg
Debut year: 2004
World Series wins: 0
World Series podiums: 0
Lukas made his international debut as a junior at the European championships in 2004 on home turf in Lausanne but first showed signs of making it as an elite when he finished runner-up to Alistair Brownlee at the European junior cup race in Rijeka, Croatia two years later. Later that year he followed in Brownlee’s wake to finish in tenth at the junior world championships and two years later followed it up with a sixth place finish in Vancouver at the under 23 world championships, which was also won by the Brit. Lukas’s twelfth place finish at the 2009 Ishigaki World Cup is his best senior performance to date.
You had a superb result in the ITU Triathlon Team Championships, can you explain your thoughts starting off in the lead alongside Brad Kahlefeldt?
The Swiss Coach Fabio Vedana told me to swim as fast as I could. That’s what I did. After the arrival of Daniela Ryf alongside Emma Snowsill there was a lot of pressure on me to get a medal, I couldn’t let the others down, so I knew what to do. My thoughts were just to stay with Brad whatever it took, and then we would be on the podium.
On the bike you looked to be doing a lot of the work, were you concerned Simon Whitfield would catch you?
Daniela worked so hard to get us in such a good position, so yes, I tried to keep in at least second place. Simon is a great triathlon champion and I didn’t want to run with him!
Talk us through the run, especially when you closed down Brad and kicked for home.
Brad is a real idol to me and I had seen him a lot racing ITU competitions on TV. I knew his ability to get faster and slower to make the others feel bad so I just ran my own pace and tried not to get caught in his game. Finally, I had enough power to open a gap so I kicked to win the race.
Crossing the line must have been amazing, what were you feeling?
Wow, it was awesome. I’ve never felt so happy. It wasn’t just for me; there four athletes who did this. I was so proud and so surprised. But it felt really good, I could get used to it!
How did you and the team celebrate afterwards?
We were invited to have an American BBQ. It was great to get some drinks and a lot of food!
You are competing in the first year in the new Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series. What is it like racing alongside the top guys, and what have you learnt from your experience?
I like the way these guys are. They are real superstars, but still so cool, modest and friendly. But yeah, sometimes, it feels a bit deflating to be two minutes behind them. But I know where to improve. My experience… well, there hasn’t been a lot… but yes, I’ve learnt to never look back and to stay with the first pack!!
What are your racing plans for the rest of the year?
I will get back to some training now, then in August, I’ll be in London for the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship, and finally get ready for the Under 23 World Championships.
You were sixth at last year’s under 23 world championships. What are your ambitions for the Gold Coast?
To be on the podium would be great. I’ll be ready for it!
You are one of four brothers who are all involved with the Swiss Triathlon team, who else should we be looking out for?
You better should look out for all of them! In our daily training they push me very hard. In a year or so, we’ll be all racing on the World Cup circuit so I hope to get some assistance.