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Filtering by Tag: Nice

Paris-Nice Challenge: riding like a Pro!

Ivan Blanco

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Which keen cycling amateur doesn't dream of riding like a pro…?

803 riders, up to 123 kms, +2000 m elevation gain... it’s the Paris-Nice Challenge!

That opportunity has knocked on the doors of the almost 1000 brave riders that signed up for the 1st ever Paris-Nice cycling Challenge on March 12th. The choice was between 2 routes, one almost identical to the Stage 7 and last for the Pros who had been racing from Paris down to Nice; gruelling 123kms and more than 2000m of elevation gain were to put even the most seasoned (pro) amateur to the test. For less ambitious or sprinters, a shorter 96kms route opened the opportunity for a wider range of cyclists, although not be dismissed as easy either.

A common ritual of most cyclists isn't exactly what the rest of mortals consider Weekend... no enthusiastic rider wakes up at ten, so alarm check the night before, bike wash, lube it, energy bars stocking and one good night sleep are only a few of the ‘rules’ for one big ride day.. The occasion was worth it, we were to ride the same roads that World Cycling Champions were going to race the next day!

Early riser

Safety, food and coffee!

The good things of taking part in a sportive is not only the pleasure of riding with fellow passionate riders, but also the many voluntary locals that are spread over the route to ensure your safety and even block the cars for safe passage in dangerous crossroads or roundabouts. Add to this, several feeding stops that help you ride lighter but still get the so needed energy, a bit of riders’ favourite drink, coffee or even some mechanics for a quick fix, and an honour medal is always a nice finishing treat. However, what would be riding Nice’s most beautiful scenic roads without a beautiful snap, focusing this time on my riding, the option to have photographers catch you is a rare opportunity that I couldn't let go; I do lots of pics, only not of myself. Although you might not appear as good as the pros, it's one nice souvenir:

Paris-Nice Challenge - © Sportograf 2016

It is a magical experience to ride the same roads that pro riders of the caliber of Alberto Contador or Ritchie Porte were to take just 24h later, both former champions of the Paris-Nice Race and strong contenders of the World famous Tour de France. In 2015, the last stage and arrival to Col d’Eze was decisive for the final result, as it would again for this year's edition, making it one of the most exciting race finish.

Quick return to Nice before the decisive Col d'Eze - Team Tinkoff Saxo

When 4 seconds mean a lot...

With the departure and arrival set at the unique Promenade des Anglais, the Col d’Eze became one of the main actors, especially for Alberto Contador who gave it all in this traditional climb. After one week leading with the yellow Jersey, Sky Team rider Geraint Thomas had in front one fierce contender in the Spanish Contador, Team Tinkoff Saxo, who performed one of his most memorable rides. The terrific Grave de Peille ascension and the mentioned Col, were Contador’s allies, increasing his positions exponentially, so much, that the so prestigious victory was at at fingertips reach… unfortunately, his so desired win was not going to happen.

With only 4 seconds difference, Geraint Thomas gave it all in the descent to Nice and managed to keep the yellow jersey and final win of the Paris-Nice; this nail-biting Stage 7 and the amateurs challenge made this weekend one unforgettable cycling experience!

Geraint Thomas, winner of the Paris-Nice: only 4s!

As an appetizer of this year's Grand Tours, the Paris-Nice and the soon to come Paris-Roubaix are the perfect season start for the cycling fans eager to see, touch and feel the exciting World of Pro cycling. Enjoy below a few pictures of this unique opportunity!

Stay tuned for more cycling adventures!

Kings & Queens, Flowers & Socca... it's Carnival in Nice!

Ivan Blanco

Español, por aquí

When it's about Kings and Queens, Nice knows perfectly how to celebrate that: 15 days, night and day parades, flower battles and unique atmosphere unite for one of Europe's biggest carnival festivities! 

How tall do you think was the highest King of Nice?

Rio has big samba parades, Venice is masked with a veil of classic elegance, Ivrea celebrates with oranges in a very particular way and of course, Nice has its unique approach too. Dating back to at least the 17th century, with even some references before that, it can be said that the real spirit of the current Nice Carnival had its main climatic moment with the creation of the Carnival Committee in 1873, lifting up the celebration to a whole new level. The main protagonists are the more than 10 meters high constructions that represent the King and Queen of Nice's Carnival; the maximum height was attained in 2014 with a 20m high King!

Another unique element of this enormous moving chariots are the main theme that sets the guidelines for the smaller chariots and their, usually, satirical point of view. This year we have the "King of Media", who with this journalistic aim, won't let any event uncovered...

The King of Media

With now more than 130 editions of France's biggest Carnival, there are 3 highlights not to be missed for the most festive and hungry ones among you. 

The Night and Day King, Queen and floats Parade

The most relevant event of the Carnival, also called Corso in the local Niçois language, invades the scene of Nice's most famous square, Place Massena, whch offers the leading role of the show to the Carnival's King and Queen who bring awe and excitement to the happy, big and small carnivalieres. At least 90 minutes, packed with dance, music, jokes and sheer happiness will immerse you completely in the most carnivalesque atmosphere. My personal favourite, the Night parade! Filled with lights, colours and confetti that brighten up Massena's evenings as no other show can.

Little tip: disguise yourself from head to toe and you'll be granted free entry to the parade for an utmost carnivalesque experience; no, a red plastic nose won't cut it. 

See below photos of this and last year´s editions:

The Flower Battle

Bird view of the Flower Battle!

When a battle has jazmin, rose and mimosa scents... then it can only be for Nice's Carnival! Held after French lunch time, the entry to this will give you the chance to come back home with more than another parade... Apart of the around 3000 fresh flowers, it enhances the local floral heritage and gives Nice's Carnival the most natural colours to this 2 week event. In addition to the party, and, flower power, it's one good way to surprise your girlfriend ;) After each battle, at the end, the flowers fly away from the floats launched by the its participants as a gift to the public that cheered them during all the event; there's no better way to bring back home a bouquet of the best flowers of the region.

The Socca party

Yummy Niçois Socca!

No real celebration is without a tasty culinary note...the Socca party celebrates Nice's most gastronomic heritage and local proud. Taking place at the Jardin Albert 1er, this very Nice gastronomic star is a kind of crunchy crepe made out of chickpea flour and one of the Provence's most tasty delicacies; little tip, add some pepper and salt, a glass of local rose wine, and you'll be culinary synched with the French Riviera.

Looking for more?

Nice's Sea View

Then put on your bathing suit and be ready for one cold salto: time for a Carnival Dip! Scheduled on the festivities' last day and probably a prelude of that evening's main event... a dip in the benigne Mediterranean Sea is the chance for the most brave locals to get ready for the nights big event. 

The last carnival day is marked by the King's final parade into Nice's most beloved protagonist: the sea. With fireworks and one big celebration, the Carnival's King is incinerated in front of the Promenade des Anglais and says goodbye to one of the Rivieras's most famous Winter events.

End of party!

End of party!

Find here all the info and programme of this year's Carnival.

If you're hooked to Instagram then snap away and tag your pics with #nicecarnaval and #igersnice to win some very carnivalesque prizes, organized for the 2nd time by @igersnice and @nicecarnaval; click here for more info.

This post is part of my Riviera Carnival Triangle, stay tuned
on Twitter Instagram for more!