Red Bull X-Alps Athletes Battle Onwards But Bad Weather Slows Progress
Maurer passes the Matterhorn but bad weather slows down the rest of the pack at
Red Bull X-Alps 2017.
Christian Maurer (SUI1) now has Monaco in his sights and a clear run to get there after Gaspard Petiot (FRA2), his nearest rival, dramatically pulled out of the Red Bull X-Alps yesterday after suffering a hand and knee injury while landing near Lake Como. “When I was about to touch down, a thermal bubble smashed me on that wall and that was it. The dream is over.”, Petiot said.
All eyes are now on Maurer. In good conditions he could be Monaco in a couple of days. But both he and the chasing athletes behind him are facing a weather front that is making flying all but impossible. By mid afternoon thunder clouds were rolling in over the northern shores of Lake Como while sporadic storms were breaking out.
Maurer says that four to five days is probably the best estimate for making goal. “The weather is not really flyable for the next day or so,” he said.
If it does take longer than 11 days, it could be the slowest time he’s ever made the finish since starting the race in 2009. That year it took him just under 12 days. His record is 6d 23h in 2013 – but both were on shorter courses.
Although the outlook is not good, he said he’s still feeling strong, and the team’s Swiss efficiency, for which they’re noted, is still running like clockwork.
“I’m within my comfort zone and flying as before but I also have better planning, better logistics, I can push more on the ground,” he said.
For the chasers now lying 100km back, Sunday was a day that offered a difficult choice between hiking up for a short flight on glide only, or just plugging away on the road.
Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) had made two flights by lunchtime. Neither involved much, if any, thermal activity, but he has covered a lot of ground and cleared Lake Como. Stanislav Mayer (CZE) also made a flight but the gains were small.
Most midfield athletes opted to hike along the main road. “It’s so hard,” says Simon Oberrauner (AUT4), of the decision whether to fly or hike. “It looks flyable but I’d need to hike up 1,600m which would take three hours and I know the front is coming. I need to conserve energy.”
At the back Duncan Kotze (RSA) has been eliminated. The 41-year-old rookie was in last place 47km behind the nearest competitor when the axe fell. “Bizarrely, I feel ready for more,” he said.
Benoit Outters (FRA4) will use a Ledlenser Night Pass this evening. The rookie, who is currently in 2nd place and 97km behind Christian Maurer (SUI1), has two night passes, after earning an additional one during the Leatherman Prologue.
He will likely push hard, to gain as much ground on Chrigel as possible. Benoit is a talented ultrarunner and could significantly narrow the gap. He will also want to extend his 38km lead over 3rd place Paul Guschlbauer and the pack behind him. As the Frenchman moves towards home soil, the final race for Monaco is on!
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