Home favourite Yves Cordier had a famous battle with triathlon GOAT Mark Allen on the Promenade des Anglais at the Triathlon International de Nice in 1992, losing out in agonising fashion in the final 400 metres to the 10-time – and unbeaten – winner of the event.
And 31 years on he will again welcome the world’s greatest triathletes to his home city with the IRONMAN France race director now adding the co-hosting of the IRONMAN World Championship to his portfolio.
A celebrated triathlete (a five-time winner of the Embrunman tops his CV), after retiring he took over the management of what morphed into IRONMAN France in 2005 as well as several other high profile races for the M-Dot brand.
Arguably the highlight so far was the successful staging of the 70.3 World Championships in Nice in 2019 but the news that the IMWC will be co-hosted by Nice alongside Kona is another hugely significant step.
‘Writing the next chapter’
We caught up with him to get his reaction and it’s clear straight away just what a big deal this is, despite his background and the array of global sporting events Nice will be hosting in the next couple of years.
He told us: “There’s a lot of emotion having the IRONMAN World Championship in Nice.
“I started in triathlon 40 years ago, have worked with IRONMAN for 20 years and it’s been quite a journey.
“We hosted the IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds in 2019 and it’s a great team here – but we’re looking forward now to writing the next chapter. We will be doing everything we possibly can to make this a great race and event in eight months – and for the next four years.
“The four years gives us a great opportunity to create a new story – Hawaii and Nice.”
Heading for the hills
The IRONMAN France formula has been a successful one – and very different to Kona. And that will now be the foundation for the IRONMAN World Championship for the men on 10 September.
Cordier explained: “For the moment we have exactly the same course. On the swim we have the possibility to change but the bike will be the same in general and the marathon will be on the Promenade des Anglais with four loops.
“I think the swim won’t be too different to Hawaii – a relatively flat ocean swim – but for sure everyone is thinking about the bike.
“We have 2,400 metres of elevation so the climbing and descending is a real test. It will be great for those who can push hard on the bike – and the spectators.”
Frodeno in Nice?
Nice’s opportunity came about after IRONMAN confirmed its commitment to dedicated race days for men and women, followed by the Kona community making it clear that separate days wasn’t an option there going forward.
And Cordier intends to make the most of it, telling me: “Sport is changing all the time and I think it’s very important for triathlon to do that and Nice offers something different.
“For sure we need to have two days, with the races on separate days. It’s not possible in Hawaii.
“There are people in Europe for whom it’s very expensive to go to Hawaii but now they have an additional IRONMAN World Championship location – and remember that every two years, both options are available.
“We have the experience with the 70.3 Worlds of separate days and it’s a step-by-step process – we now have the capacity to do that at IRONMAN distance.”
And one final question for now – can modern-day GOAT Jan Frodeno be tempted to follow in Mark Allen’s footsteps and head to Nice in September, even if it’s not his beloved Kona?
No one would be happier to see him there than Cordier: “For sure there’s a new generation but he’s an Olympics Games winner, a multiple World Champion at 70.3 and IRONMAN in Hawaii. Everyone likes Jan and I very much hope Jan Frodeno comes to Nice.”