Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer: first professional win for Thalmann, three out of three for Boulanger

Sven Thalmann takes his first professional victory at Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer (Picture: José Luis Hourcade / Challenge Family)

A stunning day at Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer featured strong performances. The day delivered victory for Sven Thalmann and Aurélia Boulanger, who established dominance on the testing course on the Côte d’Azur with winning times of 3:58:53 and 4:33:27, respectively.

After an early start at Hippodrome beach, Thalmann (SUI) led the men’s swim, finishing in 25:45, followed closely by Tom Vaelen (BEL), Simon Viain (FRA), and Antonio Limoli (ITA). 

The 85km bike course, which included the famous Col de Vence, was marked by strategic competition. Viain initially led the men, but Thalmann regained the lead after the descent. Still, it was Jordi Montraveta Moya (ESP) who had the fastest bike time, 2:17:22, setting a new benchmark for the course.

Thalmann started the run with a strong pace and by the 6.3 km mark, he had established a 42-second lead over Viain, with Montraveta close behind in third. Midway through the run, Thalmann extended his lead to one minute, maintaining his position to finish first in 3:58:53 and securing himself a new course record by over 10 minutes. Montraveta and Viain battled closely, with Montraveta securing second place in 3:59:47, and Viain finishing third in 4:01:20.

Thalmann said he was suffering a lot today: “I got bitten twice by a jellyfish, and I was suffering quite a lot on the uphill, and after Simon having a mechanical, I took the lead, which I managed to keep. I was fading on the run, but somehow, it was also enjoyable. I am quite happy now.”

The women’s race was equally exciting after Chloe Sparrow (GBR) exited the water first in 28:45, ahead of Justine Guerard (FRA) and Milan Agnew (AUS). But then Heini Hartikainen (FIN) came from behind and took an early lead on the bike. However, Boulanger moved into first place by T2, finishing the bike course with the fastest bike time in 2:37:44 and also securing a new bike course record. After 6.5 km of the run, Boulanger held a two-minute lead over Hartikainen. Boulanger maintained a lead over Hartikainen, who was still two minutes behind after 12 km, with Agnew narrowing the gap but still trailing by 5:20. She took the win at home in 4:33:27, smashing the course record, with Hartikainen taking second in 4:35:16 and Agnew rounding out the podium in third in 4:40:03.

Boulanger said she was very happy with today’s win: “It was a very hard race, but I am very happy, and I felt really strong on the bike today. It’s a wonderful place so it is just amazing to race in such conditions.”

Aurélia Boulanger takes three out of three with victory Challenge Cagnes-sur-Mer (Picture: José Luis Hourcade / Challenge Family)