Red Bull X-Alps

The battle for the podium

Seb Huber © zooom.at/Harald Tauderer
 Antoine Girard © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman
 Gaspard Petiot © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman
 Aaron Durogati © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman
 Paul Guschlbauer © zooom.at/Harald Tauderer
 Seb Huber © zooom.at/Sebastian Marko

The battle for podium spots is now on. Sebastian Huber used his Led Lenser Night Pass to march through the night, covering 25km. He’s now in difficult terrain behind Nice and Monaco with 20km to go. It won’t be an easy morning – the roads here wind through the hills and there are houses everywhere making shortcuts difficult. He may just have to pad it out along tarmac to get to Peille.

Behind him, the battle for bronze has never been hotter. Durogati (ITA), Girard (FRA2) and Petiot (FRA4) teamed up in the air yesterday to fly fast and overtake Guschlbauer (AUT1) who was on his own line out west.

The Franco/Italian alliance lasted much of the afternoon and evening as the three athletes flew past Guschlbaur together. In the air, athletes will fly faster if they cooperate – using each other to find the best lift quickly, and then spreading out on glide to find the next thermal.

This is efficient, fast flying. But the entente cordiale won’t last forever. They start the day spread out within 5km of each other at 106-111km from goal. They can reach Peille today – once the thermals start to work this will be a great race to watch.

Guschlbauer. So near, yet so far. He was on Chrigel Maurer’s (SUI1) tail for the entire race, applying pressure, pushing, reeling the Swiss maestro in. But it was never enough. In the final analysis, he took the wrong line.

While Maurer went due south from Annecy, Guschlbauer was forced to skirt west around the mighty 4,000m Ecrins mountains. He spent much of yesterday hiking, getting in the air late in the evening for a windy flight across Lac de Serre-Poncon.

He deployed the second of his two Led Lenser Night Passes – he won a second for winning the Powertraveller Prologue – and has hiked through the night. In doing so, he has covered 20km and pulled back into third spot. He now has 98km to go.

When the thermals turn on today he could easily make Peille today – but it’s again going to be a battle with Petiot, Girard and Durogati.

Maurer might be sunning himself by the Mediterranean already, but these guys are going to be sweating it out for the rest of the day.

 

Antoine Girard © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman

Gaspard Petiot © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman

Aaron Durogati © zooom.at/Kelvin Trautman

Paul Guschlbauer © zooom.at/Harald Tauderer

Seb Huber © zooom.at/Sebastian Marko