For the first time in history this Sunday (September 10), the IRONMAN World Championship will be hosted on European soil, with the men’s race in 2023 set to take place in the French coastal city of Nice.
Whilst the iconic race has been hosted outside of its iconic home venue of Kona once in the past (St George, Utah in May 2022), the move to Nice is part of a longer running deal which will see the men and women alternate between France and the Big Island of Hawaii until 2026.
With a new-look course to look forward to, which includes a different set of challenges across swim, bike and run for all the athletes, we dissect the route the professional men (and Age-Groupers) will have to take this weekend from the Plage des Ponchettes to the Promenade des Anglais.
The swim, which takes place in the shallows of the Mediterranean Sea, is effectively a two-lap course, with the athletes first completing a 1900m out and back loop before heading around a set of buoys just off the shore for a second loop of 1925m.
Starting from the water off the pebble beach of the Plage des Ponchettes, the course is a total of 3850m and runs perpendicular to the famed Promenade des Angles, with transition situated just off the beach.
With close to 900m of clear water for the fastest swimmers to the first buoy, this course offers a perfect chance for the front pack to set a hard tempo from the start and get a gap on the field.
Dependent on the weather, the water in the Baie des Anges can be choppy and rough or glassy and smooth, with the conditions likely to be determined by the wind over the course of the race weekend, with temperatures likely to be upwards of 24 degrees.
Without a doubt, the bike course and the challenges it presents has been one of the main talking points heading into this year’s race in Nice, with the city’s proximity to the Alps making it a climber’s paradise on race day.
Just one loop of 180.2km, the course makes its way out of the city via the nearby hillside villages, as they start of at an elevation of just 22m and climb to just under 1200m in the mountains for a total elevation gain of 2427m across the length of the ride.
After an initial gradual climb up into the hills, the first major climb in the Alpes-Maritime region starts past Tourettes-sur-Loup and ends just before Caussols, climbing almost 900m in just under 20km of cycling.
From the 60km mark, the course is undulating for another 60km, before the athletes take on one of the most challenging aspects of the course, the technical descent of Clues de Gréolières from the 120km mark.
After another small climb, the course winds its way back down to the coast and at Saint Laurent du Var rejoins the outbound route past the airport and back into the city centre towards transition.
Finally, on what will hopefully be a spectator-lined run course from start to finish, the best men in the world will battle it out for the title along the Promenade des Anglais over a marathon which spans the length of the iconic boardwalk.
The four-loop, 42.2km course will head out from transition towards the Nice International Airport, passing sights such as the Negresco Hotel whilst hand-railing the backdrop of the Mediterranean.
With just 100m of elevation gain from start to finish, the best runners in the field will hope they have enough left in their legs to put a solid marker down, with the leaders likely to be constantly exposed to the chasers behind them on the out and back course.