17 août 2018

Race Across France


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August 16th 2018, and around fifty “pioneering” cyclists from all over the world have been setting off from Mandelieu-la-Napoule on the first Race Across France, to attack over 2,500 kilometres in a race that’s already promising to become a fixture. Louison Bobet salutes the accomplishment of an "unique" initiative mounted by his organizer, Arnaud Manzanini, and salutes the panache shared by them all to reach the finishing line in under a week!

The beginnings 

In 2010 the destiny of the cyclist Arnaud Manzanini - ambassador for Louison Bobet – changed completely. Passionate about cycling and drawn to the adventure of America, he set off to experience the unknown, riding across the country from west to east in a single stage: the Race Across America. An epic journey that goes beyond sport to reveal the true nature of a person and alter their destiny. 

The French version 

Arnaud Manzanini remains marked by his American experience, having twice successfully finished the race.  So it was natural for him to bring the idea of a long-distance race to France and adapt it to create a grand route across the Hexagon. He needed only to fine-tune the idea and convince fellow passionate participants in order to launch this huge enterprise. 

The Race Across France is born 

After several months of preparation, riders taking part in the Race Across France will set off for this exceptional first race on August 16th. Those who have signed up for the “Ultra” category will have to complete 2,600 kilometres from the south to the north of France, including over 40,000 meters elevation gain, in under a week. A major proof of prowess and effort day and night!

2,600 kilometres in an exceptional race 

Apart from the “Ultra” that the more courageous riders will be taking on in the new race, there are several other possible formats: these include the “Sprint”  - the 350-kilometre ground race, and the 1,100-kilometre “Challenge”, a taster of the pleasures of “Ultra” cycling that can be undertaken alone, or with two, four or eight in a team. Starting points for the different categories will be given at Mandelieu-la-Napoule in the Alpes-Maritimes. Direction north for all participants, and for competitors in the Ultra, 25 passage points to keep to - some of which will be eliminatory - including the outstanding views from the Ventoux and other Alpine passes to enjoy. The finish will be celebrated at Le Touquet at the end of an experience from which most people will emerge transformed. 

On the traces of Louison Bobet

The Race Across France will reveal new cycling adventures here in France, the country where Louison Bobet, as champion and man, achieved his greatest exploits and experienced his highest emotions.  Riders will go through places steeped in cycling history. Some will surely recall the duel between the young Louison, then aged 23, and the Italian, Gino Bartali, on the slopes of the Alpe d’Huez in the 1948 Tour de France, or the French champion’s victory in a stage marked by the first passage of the Grande Boucle at the summit of Ventoux in 1951. Others will no doubt remember that Louison won the most beautiful race three consecutive times in1953, 54 and 55, making his mark in the peloton on the great Alpine passes. In very bad shape on the 1959 Tour, his last, his innate panache led him to abandon the race, head held high, at an altitude of 2, 700 on the summit of the Iseran. 

The Race Across France will also be an opportunity to remember Louison Bobet, the visionary, who participated in the development of thalassotherapy in France with his cycling career and opened many centers, including one located in Le Touquet, the city of arrival of the race. A joyous coincidence that perfectly illustrates the concept of the RAF 2018, plunge participants into what makes France, the beauty of its landscapes and its history.



At the initiative of Arnaud Manzanini - LOUISON BOBET® Ambassador

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Photos: F. Paoletti / Loïc G. Loguen - Instagram @arnaudmanzanini

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