Just over a month ago, Darren Toyne rubbed shoulders with the world’s best male triathletes at the Ironman World Championships (Men’s) in Nice, France. Read on to get an insight into his French adventure.
Arrived Wednesday pm and took a tram to hotel which was only 1.70EUR and very convenient. Dropped luggage and headed immediately to Legacy Function where as soon as I walked in the door I got a Fanboy moment with Mark Allen.
Next day was Parade of Nations which was pretty cool and got to meet all the other Aussie athletes competing. Just like an olympic opening ceromoney, we all took a team pic in front of #ILoveNiece sign again with Mark Allen, took turns holding the flag and chanted Aussie, Aussie, Aussie continuously to let everyone know who we were.
Friday we attendeed the welcome Banquet which was really a bit of a fizzer. No pro athletes and not very well attended, but as we were staying at the hotel next door to the function centre, it was a no brainer to attend. Every day was 30+ degrees and Check in was no exception. Water temp was 24 and on borderline of wetty or not which presented problems as if non wetty were not allowed to wear calf or arm sleeves and needed to leave in transition bag. As we walked in with bike, people were taking all the stats from the TT bars, wheels and make and model of frame and gearing.
Race Morning came around and like every other day we caught a tram to the start with most other athletes. At 5am we were notifed of no wetsuit swim. Once in town transition only had one entry which was painful as once you setup your bike and exited, you had to go in again when ready for swim start as that was the only way to get there. Transition was literally 400m from one end to the other.
The Swim was an awesome course format with the exception of the last 800m that was chaotic as we caught all the slower swimmers from the earlier waves. Overall I was pretty happy out in around 1:05. In T1 I had a rookie Frodeno moment forgetting to completely remove my swim skin, as it was the first time I had worn one and had to go back to bag drop and remove it. The swim exit to get to my bike felt like forwever away as the rows were very narrow, and there were soooo many rows.
The bike had a number of different segments. The first part was very steep and I was happy with choice of road bike and gear configuration(50/34) as it had bits up to 14% grade. The second part included the major climb which just kept going and going. At each turn of a corner I was looking for relief and it just went up again. Total length was approx. 20km at avg. 7% grade. It was very cool looking down at the switchbacks below as to how far I’d climbed, however was also mentally draining when looking up at how far and high I still had to go. At the top was very baron with little vegetation and the heat was a killer taking two water bottles at each aid station, one on bike for hydration and the other over the body to cool me down. Once over the top we hit the valley pass through the mountains. It was slow undulating rollers allowing to get into TT position for the first time.
After that was the first descent which was absolutely mental with high speed cornering with literally hundreds of metres of sheer cliff face to go over if you got it wrong. At about 120km the fun was over as it went again for another 10km. By this stage legs were having spasmodic cramps on inner thighs and I had to keep telling myself I can’t stop peddling as I won’t finish. Once at the top we went down again and I cut absolutely sick and was so happy having road bike that allowed me to gain many places making up what I had lost in hills.
By the time I arrived at T2 I had no feeling in toes and was dejected of how long it took me to ride an IM bike course, a good 2+ hours more than normal. For the record I am shit at hills, but didn’t think that bad. I walked through transition and it felt like an eternity before I entered the course. On the run I started out walking hoping to regain feeling in my feet until I convinced myself to do minute in minute off, which later became 2 on 1 off until I reached the finish.
Although not my greatest finish, it still had amazing finish line vibes and the French, and every other countries supporters were amazing and all hung around until the end. It felt like I had won the event coming over the line with the atmosphere being so electric. The age Group winner in my category(50-54) was none other than the very controversial Alexander Vinokourov, ex Pro Cyclist in the dark days of cyling and current General Manager of the Astana team. My claim to fame will be that I beat him out of water by 10min.
In summary and for those wanting to have a crack at Nice for WC or just the annual race I found that I did not do enough long climbs, did plenty of 8 & 10 minute stuff with 2min recovery and mainly on ergo with fan, but nothing that involved continuous average of 7% for 90minutes at 30’ in the heat and at altitude. My poor run was the result of fatigued legs and body post such a brutal ride. A great experience that I will never forget, and thanks for all the well wishes before the event. A highly recommended event.
This race report was written by Darren Toyne.
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