Grant is out there right now preparing for the race this weekend.
Aix-en-Provence: Montagne Sainte-Victoire, the center of this race. This mountain is the focal point of the region dominating the skyline for most of the race.
Swim: The swim start is in an old quarry lake. No current and no waves, no worries! Definitely a wetsuit race too. This must be one of the longest runs from the water to T1 ever. At least 300 meters.
Bike: This race is all about the bike and the climbs. Probably wise not to get aero for the first 2k as there are some huge speed bumps out there while leaving Peyrolles. The first 10k are all fast and pretty flat. Prevailing winds should help you. Once you make that first right turn, get ready for the type of crap roads all cyclists hate. Rough and uneven asphalt make the first climbs tough. Don't panic though, the roads do get smoother, although steeper, so toughen up. Those first two climbs before Ginasservis are just wake up calls, so one needs to get focused early. The next 10k before Rians are time to get aero and move fast. The views are getting better.
Grant will be posting more from the event over the next few days............
Just before and after Rians, there is a good climb for a couple of miles. One rides through what we Yanks call a scrub oak forest. At about the 52k mark, the downhills begin. It can be steep and very twisty as one snakes down this mountain. The Ironman staff have marked the road with danger signs for the sharpest of the turns. Don't be aero for these, you'll never make it.
Coming off that ridge, you'll finally start seeing the Montagne, and it dominates the skyline. I found I was able to recover nicely and enjoy some of the incredible views until the big right turn at about the 68k mark. Then it's time to drop into a low gear and climb again. Hopefully you can also do this climb on a non-race day. It really is one of the nicest I've ever done anywhere in the world. The good news is, one doesn't have to climb the entire Montagne, just 2/3 of it, but it's still a good 3k long. The difficulty of this climb easily compares to Plattestrasse in Wiesbaden (site of the 2016 Worlds) or of the big climbs in the Klagenfurt Ironman in Austria.
After this climb, there are plenty of downhills and more uphills, but it's pretty smooth sailing until you enter Aix for the run. Careful though coming into Aix - there are more speed bumps and crap roads to watch out for.