La Pouncho d'Agast: the challenge

Face to face, 2 giants of South Aveyron, the Pouncho d’Agast and the Millau Viaduct.


This morning, July 14, Fête Nationale day, it’s anchored in Millau: it’s the Pouncho challenge!

This morning, July 14th, the French National Holiday, is a Millau tradition: the Pouncho challenge!

Face to face, 2 giants of the South Aveyron, unmissable spots for outdoor activities, the Pouncho d’Agast and the Millau Viaduct. In the middle is France’s undisputed outdoor sports resort: Millau.

This morning, July 14, Fête Nationale day, it’s anchored in Millau: it’s the Pouncho challenge!

Road running, trail & fly (paragliding), roller skiing, road biking, trail, a multitude of possible combos. It doesn’t matter how you climb, the main thing is to get to the top at 842 metres!

"La Pouncho, the Mont-Blanc of Millavois

We’re not in Chile or Mexico. We may be getting a little closer to Argentina for historical reasons, but we’re definitely in Millau, Aveyron, where our Pouncho d’Agast culminates at 842 meters!

For this 1st Défi de la Pouncho, I’ve chosen the X 3 combo: road race, road bike and trail.

Wake up 8am. Small coffee shop downtown, facing the Pouncho. While admiring her, I ask her to be gentle with me today. I head off to pick up a mountain bike (not necessarily the right choice), which a colleague kindly lends me for the road race.

It’s time to head to the Pouncho traffic circle, to the starting line for the first event. The great thing about Millau is that town and country are one and the same! In just 5 minutes, you’re on your way from café terraces to the great outdoors.

1st climb: road race

As we arrive we witness the finish of an exceptional trail & fly combo, paraglider on back, competitors have linked 4 trail climbs by the famous Chrono Pouncho coming back down each time, as fast as possible by air!

On the line, about fifty runners, I hear a few words in English just behind me: “this climb is not so easy, you stay behind the first for the first 6 kilometers and then you pass in front to win!”. Well… there’s a level there, a foreigner coming to play the winner in Millau, July 14th day, mouais…

The start is launched, I quickly get into my race, at my own pace. For this first ascent, the Pouncho is rather benevolent and still protects me from the sun’s rays. At this hour, they illuminate the Viaduc de Millau and reflect off the town.

No idea of the weather, this is my first ascent by road, usually I’m thinking rather, “but why are these guys going up by road, we’ve got paths!”. The good news is that I’m finally enjoying myself.

Lacet after lacet, I rise above the Cité du Gant with a sumptuous view over the town, the resort and the beginning of the Tarn valley.

A nice little refreshment at the finish, at the summit, near theparagliding and hang-gliding take-off areas and the mythical antenna, before heading back down for the second round (by car, thanks to those accompanying!)

Just enough time to cool off in the fresh waters of the Dourbie, at the foot of the Pouncho, and it’s time for the road bike time trial….

2nd ascent: mountain biking (don't be afraid!)

Around the line there’s talk of sprockets, derailleurs, carbon, rims, cassettes, stems, frames or even headset bushes… I wonder if I’m in the right place!”

Drinking in the words of these specialists, I realize I’ve forgotten one indispensable detail: the helmet! Quickly, as luck would have it, some activity providers have their bases right next to the start line and I get one lent to me quite naturally. Opportunity!

Amidst the flamboyant carbon racing bikes, I sneak my little mountain bike towards the start line, while looking for a pump to fine-tune my inflation.

I spot among the runners Maël Alric, a local runner, recently crowned French champion 2022 in long-distance duathlon (bike + run).

After a quick look at the bikes in attendance, only 3 mountain bikes will be at the start.

Let’s go, I’m trying to take on a big gear right from the start, but from the very first meters I can feel that the experience is going to be long and complicated. I feel like I’m pushing hard, really hard on the pedals and not moving forward…

The puncheurs and climbers start to overtake me one after the other at mind-boggling speeds. They even take pictures of me at the side of the road, perhaps just to prove that you can do it on a mountain bike too! On the road, I try to follow the shadows of the squadrons of griffon vultures intrigued by these strange humans waddling on their mounts!

Arrived at the top, it’s deliverance, I’m hot, very hot and I realize that I’ve taken longer than running the same distance (7.6 km for 480 D+)! For me, it’s impossible, and I’m already telling myself that I’ll have to take revenge next year…

After a good refreshment stop, some nice exchanges and smiles with the organization’s volunteers who are constantly encouraging us, and of course after “redoing” the race between runners, I freewheel back down, but as fast as I can all the same, to refresh myself once again in the clear waters of the Dourbie.

3pm, 40° in the shade, certainly not far from 50° felt in the sun on the asphalt, 0 km/h wind, it's Trail time!

This is my route, that of the Millavois, training in the morning, with colleagues at lunchtime, relaxing in the evening or on night-time adventures, I know our Chrono Pouncho by heart.

But today, it’s hot, very hot and the legs are starting to feel heavy.

Here we go, on the first part we’re on asphalt. Theoretically, this is where we gain time … my record?! it won’t be for today …

I climb as best I can the 2.5km for 480 meters of positive elevation gain, I never tire of this path with a quick height gain, and once again exceptional views of the Dourbie Gorges, the town of Millau, the Viaduct, the Larzac plateau opposite or even the beginning of the Tarn valley.

As we catch sight of the antenna, shouts and bells are heard, spectators and volunteers waiting to cheer us on in the final meters of this ½ kilometer vertical… Water sprayers in hand, they transcend us to finish the climb and reach the finish gate. More than just a climb, each and every one of us assaults the beautiful summit that is the Pouncho d’Agast.

"My first Combo X3 from Pouncho d'Agast".

I finished, I did my first Combo X3 of the Pouncho d’Agast, I’m a bronze medalist! That’s right, all finishers are bronze medallists… then silver and gold depending on their times. An atmosphere worthy of a July 14th mid-afternoon at the summit of the Pouncho d’Agast: laughter, exchanges and sharing!

Thanks to the organizers and volunteers for this great leisure sports event open to all, where everyone can enjoy themselves, whatever their level, and discover Millau, Capital of Outdoor Sports!


Make a date, it’s easy: in Millau, on July 14, it’s Défi de la Pouncho!”

Continue the adventure