30 Jun 2024

Let’s Race… Challenge Cagnes-Sur-Mer

Ooh la la! With palm trees, turquoise seas and a legendary hill climb this challenging on the stunning French Riviera will leave you breathless.
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Vicki Grimshaw

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Awash with fast supercars, luxury yachts and opulent hotels, the South of France is rightly known as a millionaire’s playground.

The ultimate travel destination, the rich and famous flock here to live or vacation in the Côte d’Azur sunshine and enjoy the stunning coastline, azure blue sea and charming hillside villages.

Luckily you don’t have to be stinking rich to enter Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer which takes place in the charming south-eastern seaside town of Cagnes sur Mer just down the road from the glitzier resorts of Nice and Antibes.

This middle-distance corker certainly makes the most of the breath-taking French Riviera’s terrain where the best international elites as well as thousands of age-groupers come each year to train and race.

And it’s not hard to see why as you’ll swim in the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and test yourself on the scenic hills including the legendary Col de Vence before a flat run along the palm-tree -lined seafront promenade.

And this Challenge event is a pretty eco-friendly race to boot with recycling zones, no plastic bottles and medals and trophies made from recycled materials.

Post-race why not stay on for a few days to truly immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of the area.

World-class racing in the heart of the French Riviera

Location - French Riviera chic

Located in the heart of the Cote d’Azur between the sea and the mountains, Cagnes sur Mer is a charming medieval town with a rich artistic heritage – impressionist master Renoir among others lived here – combined with the trappings of a modern holiday resort.

With a 5km pebble beach and a little fishing port that’s so typical of the South of France, the area is split between the medieval hill town of Haut-de-Cagnes and the beachfront resort town where the Challenge race village will be set up.

Here you’ll find registration, the tri expo for any exciting new kit and last minute race item purchases, transition and the finish line all handily located on the Promenade de la Plage in front of Hippodrome Beach where the swim takes place.

Cagnes-sur-Mer is easy to reach with Nice Airport just ten minutes away or you can take the train to Nice or Cannes and then a local service to Gare Cagnes sur Mer. There are also good local buses.

As you might expect from the Cote d’Azur, accommodation is on the pricey side but there is still a good range of two-four star hotels, self-catering apartments and campsites in the local area. Hotel Indigo is the official race hotel.

And the town is well served for cafes, bars and restaurants along the Promenade de la Plage as well as local amenities.

For any last minute tune-ups or repairs, among the plethora of bike shops you’ll find La Roue Libre in Cagnes-sur-Mer or in nearby Saint Laurent du Var, SPOC and Leader Cycle.

Course - stunning with legendary climbs

This race will probably suit more experienced triathletes unless you are a confident swimmer or cyclist. The sea swim will pose challenges with waves and the mass start from a pebble beach, while the bike will suit stronger, lighter riders who enjoy climbing hills. The flat run will suit most athletes.

Swim - 1.9KM

The swim features a mass start off the Hippodrome Beach to the sounds of DJ Stephen Benza which should really get the adrenaline flowing as you race into the azure blue waves. Athletes swim two laps of the 950m quasi-rectangular course with an Australian Exit i.e. you exit the water after the first lap then run along the beach to the marker before getting back into the water. Bear in mind that it’s a pebble beach not soft sand and given the warm temperatures, wetsuits won’t be permitted so practice swimming without.

BIke - 96KM

This is where the challenge truly begins. The course takes you 1000m from sea level up into the beautiful but challenging foothills above the Mediterranean and the majestic and varied back country of Vence, St Paul de Vence and the legendary Col de Vence of Paris-Nice fame – 10km of 7 per cent climbing. A bit of fun on the route is the Strava Segment Challenge on “La Rampe de St Paul”, a 580m long section that hits 20 per cent. That’s short and very sharp! There will also be twists and turns and fast descents but your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Med as you pass through some truly stunning hillside villages.

Run - 21.1KM

By contrast to the bike, the run is totally flat as it follows the long seaside promenade that runs between Hippodrome beach and the Cros de Cagnes part of the town. If your legs are now telling you off for the tough bike leg, the pavements all along the palm-tree lined route will be lined with spectators creating a festive atmosphere to get you to the finish line. Once at the gantry, you’ll receive your well-deserved eco-friendly medal and with the Med just metres away, you might end going for another dip to cool off!

Spectators - family & beach friendly

Friends and family will enjoy being in your support squad as they will feel like they are on holiday as they cheer you on beside the glittering sea or up in the stunning hillside villages.

For the swim, they will find plenty of good spots to watch the athletes either from Hippodrome Beach and then they can see you in transition by the race village on the promenade before you set off on the bike or run.

A good place to watch the bike leg is “Chemin des Trious” for the famous near 20 per cent climb of St Paul de Vence and where there are also cafes and restaurants to keep them fed and watered.

As the run course is all along the seafront promenade in Cagnes-sur-Mer, it’s easy to watch the action from the pavement which will be packed with supporters and locals cheering you from the roadside cafes and restaurants.

If you are travelling with kids, they can easily be kept occupied on the local family-friendly beaches where the water is shallow and they can do everything from standup paddle boarding to jet-skiing.

Race-cation - cuisine, castles & casinos

You’re in the beautiful South of France so you’ll find lots to do and places to go if you stay on for a holiday.

If you don’t rent a car, free shuttle buses run between Haut-de-Cagnes and the seafront in Cagnes-sur-Mer and you can travel all around the region on Ligne d’Azur for just €1.5.

You can easily explore the coastline to flop on a beach beside the glittering Med or head up into the medieval hill villages such as St Paul de Vence, a mecca for artists and you’ll find amazing food, wine and scenery everywhere.

The hilltop Italian-style Grimaldi Castle and Museum once owned by Monaco’s famous Grimaldi family and now belonging to the city of Cagnes is a worth a visit for its art collection as much as for its location in town’s beautiful winding old streets.

Similarly, impressionist painter Renoir’s olive-tree surrounded estate , Les Collettes is now a stunning museum.

The beautiful lavender fields of Grasse, the centre of the world’s perfume industry, are just a half hour drive away.

To rub shoulders with the superrich, head to the nearby chic resorts of Antibes, Nice or Cannes  for buzzing nightlife or you can even hop across the border into the billionaire’s playground of Monaco for its famous casinos. You never know your luck!

World-class racing in the heart of the French Riviera

Triathlon at its best in the heart of the French Riviera. Enter now for the ultimate race experience in the South of France.

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