2019 saw a breakthrough performance and a World Championship podium for the fast-rising Rudy von Berg. But, when you are already part of a triathlon dynasty long before you turn 30, there are still a plenty more chapters to be written in the sporting history of RVB.
The sport of triathlon truly runs through the veins of the Von Berg family. Rodolphe Senior continues to be one of the best in the world in his category, still racing with success into his 60s. With his son’s progress to date, the dynasty has many years to run yet.
“My earliest memory of him racing was in Kona at the IRONMAN World Championship in 1998 when I was 5 years old” says ‘Junior’, who is now doing a fine job of forging his own direction in the sport, a path which he hopes in due course will lead him to the top step of the podium on the Big Island.
“As a kid, you definitely tell yourself, ‘One day I’ll be here with the top pros to try and win it!’ Kona will always be the number one race to win for me in my career.”
While success on Alii’ Drive may be a few years off yet – he’s yet to even start over the iron-distance – his rapid progress, race wins and Championship titles over the Middle Distance confirm that his career path is heading firmly in the right direction.
After winning the U.S. Collegiate Nationals twice during his undergraduate years, Rodolphe committed to a full-time professional triathlon career on completion of his University of Colorado Business Marketing degree in 2017.
While many would consider that a risk, Von Berg’s approach marks him out as a man likely to achieve success in whatever career path he chooses. “I am driven by the fact that whatever I do in life, I want to do it extremely well, to my fullest capability, and discover how well I can do it. That is triathlon for me. A challenge every day to try to become better.”
Hard work and commitment is essential, yet still no guarantee of success – but Rodolphe wasted little time in displaying that his decision was a wise one. 2017 saw a string of top results at IRONMAN 70.3 events in Buenos Aires (2nd), Texas (3rd) and a fifth place at the European Championships in Elsinore, Denmark.
Thirteenth at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship – 10 seconds in front of defending champion Tim Reed – was a solid debut at the event, while finishing the year with another podium at Challenge Sardinia completed the perfect springboard year.
2018 would truly see Von Berg start to hit the top step of the podium on a regular basis. He was the athlete to finally end the six-race winning streak of Jesse Thomas at Wildflower Triathlon, before perhaps his true breakthrough at the IRONMAN 70.3 European Championship.
Fifth just 12 months earlier in Elsinore, Rodolphe found himself stride-for-stride on the run with Great Britain’s Adam Bowden, one of the sport’s top runners. The Brit had closed a deficit of almost two minutes at T2, took the lead and pulled clear… only for Von Berg to fight back, close the gap and eventually cross the line 30 seconds clear.
“I never really lost hope, it was a mental game. I kept telling myself that I could still win. It is so easy to settle for second.”
That performance seemed to open the floodgates, and Von Berg then collected a string of Continental Championship wins; South America (2018 and 2019), North America (2019) and a repeat victory in Elsinore (2019) for another European title.
Tenth at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in 2018 was progress, but his long-term focus was already on Nice, France, site of the 2019 edition. Having grown up near Cannes on the French Riviera, Von Berg excels in the twisty, technical terrain that the 2019 World’s would provide. “I just love going fast downhill,” he explains.
He duly won the IRONMAN 70.3 Nice test event in 2018 – by almost six minutes – and was ‘all in’ on performing at the 2019 World Championship.
His descent off the Col de Vance took even Alistair Brownlee by surprise, and he would lead the double Olympic Champion into T2 in only his third World Championship start. Von Berg showed he could run too, finishing up with the Bronze medal on the Promenade des Anglais, where he had spent much of his youth.
Despite his rapid progress to the upper echelons of the sport and his drive to be the best at whatever he does, Rudy has a refreshing approach to achieving great results.
He describes the best piece of training advice he can offer as: “Slow down, you don’t need to push your limits in any training day. It’s a brick-by-brick process… and no brick should be too heavy to handle.”
While his racing confirms that he loves using his biking prowess in races, you get the feeling that he will still be riding his bike long after his Professional triathlon career is done, simply because, as he says: “You can discover so much on two wheels!” The same may not be true of all three disciplines as he admits: “I could probably not swim and not miss it too much.”
Having achieved so much already – and with the world’s triathlon media predicting his best is still yet to come – Von Berg Jr isn’t ready just yet to relax as part of the family dynasty. “I don’t think I really have a legacy yet. I hope that people will just look up to me as someone who worked hard to achieve his dreams, someone who is honest, kind, respectful, hard working, and who inspires others to give 100% in what they do and to pursue their passions.”
For now, you’ll find him following his dreams… while listening to Trance and Deep House music!
Born October 4, 1993 in Columbus, Georgia.
I am motivated by the fact that I want to excel at something, give the best I have towards something, whatever it is. That is triathlon for me, the sport and career I have chosen. This is my opportunity to be exceptional at something in this world, and I want to give it my best shot, my 100%, and hopefully become World Champion one day, and inspire others while doing it, to be the best version of themselves, to get out of their comfort zone, and give it their all towards something they want to achieve.