With racing season in flow but summer weather yet to arrive in London, Mono headed to Nice to get some sun-kissed training rides in the mountains. As the finishing spot for one of cycling’s classic races - Paris-Nice - and many Tour stages, it’s road bike friendly and flush with good route options whichever way you head out of town.
Words - Owen Smith | Photography - Owen Smith, Oliver Craig, Rob Cheng
The first day took in around 4000m of elevation spread over three decent ascents and 140km. It's picture book territory, passing Sainte-Agnes - part of France’s ‘Most Beautiful Villages’ association - and other equally deserving but less celebrated beauty spots.
There are lunch options aplenty on the seafront in Menton before the second ascent to a hill-top military base, passing a well cultivated and expensive-looking golf club on the way. Stopping at the top isn't an option, though, as a host of stern and fidgety military personnel throw warnings at anyone getting too close to the entrance.
A few confusing forks in the road and spots of gravel can be found around 80k, and it was around here that Pete and Adam took a wrong turn and smashed - then sheepishly descended - a nasty climb that was completely off-route. Thankfully it's easy to regroup in one of the many small mountain villages before descending back into Nice.
Day 2’s 117km route ran through Antibés and most of the climbing is done at the head of the ride before a long roll back into the city. It’s a great route for a slightly lighter day of climbing. Yet with torrential rain and cooler temperatures arriving just in time for 70km of descending it left most of the team wet, cold and miserable, with Pete describing it as his “worst day on the bike”.
Post ride a small group headed to the headquarters of Café du Cycliste to catch the end of that day’s Giro stage. They're naturally very bike friendly and the Cafe is great for a beer, coffee and the live cycling broadcasts. They also run weekly rides that start from there.
Day 3’s 116km route was probably our favourite of the trip, taking in 3000m of elevation that peaked with the Mont Vial segment, where Romain Bardet holds the Strava KOM. The road ranges from rough tarmac to gravel and there are switch backs all the way to the top, where you’ll need to continue along the flatter ridge for another few km to reach the mountain station. It's a seriously tough 7km finish, averaging out at 10-12% for the most part but the mountain vista from the peak is worth it. It comes Bobby-approved as one of his favourite climbs.
Stay warm on descents with gilets, arm warmers and by hugging team mates
Day 4 was the final day in Nice and this route was ideal for getting a respectable 86km done before flying out in the early evening. 2500m of climbing was rewarded with a route through a gorge off the back of the postcard village of Peille, before descending on endless switchbacks flanked by orchards.