Scott Cornish drops in on the 1st presentation of Race Across France – A non-stop ultra cycling event on the legendary roads of France.
bASECAMP in Talloires, on the shores of Lake Annecy, was the venue for the first presentation of the Race across France, a 2,600km non-stop road race from Nice to northeast France with 40,000m of elevation gain.
The brain child of Arnaud Manzanini, a three time finisher and top placed Frenchman at the Race across America (RAAM), he wanted to bring this format of ultra racing to France.
France has an off road version, in the form of the French Divide, now in its third year, ever popular with the fat tyre aficionados, but there was nothing for the pure roadies, until now. Arnaud brings his experience and love of France to this race, offering a route that is both scenic and challenging. It may ‘only’ be half the distance of RAAM, but it follows the same rules and regulations at its American counterpart along with a solo bikepacking option.
It isn’t an all or nothing race, offering 3 distances for those who want to dip their toe into ultra racing to get a feel for how they can push body and mind non stop. There’s the 350km sprint, the 1,100km challenge and of course the full 2,600km ultra. Just like RAAM’s 12 day limit to count as a finisher, the full Race across France has a time limit of 7 days.
Arnaud’s vision was to make it longer, passing through more of France’s iconic countryside, but not surprisingly there’s a bureaucratic ruling in France that requires the permission of the minister if an event passes through 20 or more départements, so the race stays at 19.
There are five categories from solo, 2,4 and 8 person teams and self-supported, but not all categories are available in all races, so do check. It’s deliberately a South to North race, as it gets the big mountain cols out of the way in the first half of the race and those choosing to race the shorter events get to ride some iconic alpine roads.
Arnaud has a strong palmères of ultra events behind him and clearly has a deep passion for creating such an event on his home turf and has chosen a route that is as dramatic as it is challenging. Rider numbers aren’t expected to be huge for this 1st edition, but the event has already attracted budding ultra racers from across the globe, eager to set the inaugural benchmark.
The Race Across France runs from August 18th to the 26th. For more information, visit: www.raceacrossfrance.com
Last modified: 8th February 2018