Richard Murray -  the South African lead man at ITU Triathlon - has been travelling around the world with the Joel Filliol Training Crew since 2012. We caught up with Richard and the international squad known as one-of-the-best in the industry, during a mid season training block at altitude in Les Angles, in the Midi-Pyrénées of France.

Now at the age 26, Richard is on a quest to upset the world order by taking the step up from being just off the podium to standing on the top step. The video looks at some of the elements which will support him to do just that. It certainly hinges on the social support and comradery of the group, as well as the hands, interactive approach of Joel Filliol. There are Americans, Spaniards, Dutch, Scottish and more under the Canadian Filliol guidance. They have fun, they keep it loose and they work exceptionally hard. 

[Video by Etienne van Rensburg]

"We started building this group after the London Olympics" - Joel Filliol.

The 50m Pool in near-by Font Romeu was under renovation this summer, which had the JFT Crew and numerous other triathlon groups using a small 25m pool for their swimming. Lake L'Aude, adjacent to the pool, is used for open water swims.  

"I describe every day to go out to train, that's the success ... who you're influencing is the big thing." - RD Murray

Likely the highlight of the three days in Les Angles: this quiet 20km, single lane climb in picture. It was enough to inspire Richard to do a long wheelie on his Venge. Rightly so!

"I needed to find a base and guys who have similar goals" - RD Murray.

Two thirds through the four hour Sunday long ride that included the climb above, the crew stopped at a French cafe for some calories and a few laughs. The owner spoke no English, but the group have a few key words under their belt and food was ordered and enjoyed, topped off with a cappuccino. 

"If you think of the number of Olympic medalists who have trained out of here..." - Joel Filliol.

Even the easy runs are done with company. This gravel path in the picture traces the lake and the loop takes about 50mins; ideal for a recovery run. In picture Richard runs with Katie Zaferes and Carol Routier. 

"The valuing of having a coach hands on, is the big thing. To see how it's going day to day. Those small little increments of improvement, is the big thing." - RD Murray.

There was little to no cars on the roads, no traffic lights, just endless options to choose from and turn the pedals. 

"Rich is a character!" - Joel Filliol.

A swim run brick session with Sarah True for company, running back to the apartments from the pool. 

"It is them that make it so powerful" - Joel Filliol on the the group being a "super group". Currently two of the top three ranked girls are in the crew, and two of the top five men. 

"Just his intensity that he can bring when he turns it on" - Joel Fillion on the fun and serious side to Richard. 

The Font Romeu track was a 25minute drive from Les Angles. Everyone piling into three cars, warming up together before dividing into four groups, each with a specific session to do. Some had raced that previous weekend, some had a race coming up, and Joel was there orchestrating every detail. 

[All images by Etienne van Rensburg]

Despite being more than a year away, all roads lead to the Rio Olympics of August 2016. Richard and the group are already tailoring training to the course profile. But thankfully still include a French pastry after the morning swim! 

An Olympic medal has been a lifelong dream, and one that Richard will keep chasing. 

But next is the World Triathlon Series in Hamburg Germany, the venue of Richard's first WTS victory in 2012. Follow live on at 17:45 local time this Saturday July 18th.