They are the ones challenged by the new route. These are their first reactions to the new and old Turnpoints, views on the crux sections and personal highlights.
And how did athletes react to the Route Announcement?
We’ve pulled together their responses and have spoken to many personally. They’re excited for sure, but a few common themes emerge - that final leg to Monaco, the number of Turnpoints with a signboard and how the route passes team SUI’s home-turf. But will that be an advantage? Keep reading for the surprising answer …
Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1):
"For sure there will again be some challenges, some new areas. The part down to Kronplatz and back up again will be tricky due to airspace [around Innsbruck] and crossing the Alps, flying against strong winds. That will be very interesting. The route goes through Chrigel’s home for 300km which for him is cool but pressure also for him and maybe there’s anover opportunity for someone else...? Saint-André-les-Alpes is one of the most perfect flying sites in the Alps and it’s cool it’s going to be part of the route. But first you have to make it all the way there! I am looking forward to it."
Simon Oberrauner (AUT2):
"It’s a fresh route. The good thing is there’s a lot of opportunity to fly along good cross-country routes. It could be even faster than 2017. But that all depends on the flying conditions. I was nervous, but it could be worse. We don’t have to cross the main chain so many times, we mostly stay north. The last leg will be good to fly when the weather allows. The biggest triangle of 340km was flown there so flights of 200km are possible. The small hills and south-west facing ridges are perfect for soaring. It could be that from St Hilaire it’s just one day or two to Monaco."
Tom de Dorlodot (BEL):
"The 2019 Red Bull X-Alps route has been announced and it’s quite serious once again. It will be my 7th race and it looks like it could be the hardest one yet! 1,138 kilometers, loads of turnpoints and 5 crossings of the main chain on the way! I’m really looking forward to the start line."
"Weather will tell if it is a fast race across the sky or a seemingly endless grind on the ground." - Eduardo Garza (MEX)
Thomas Juel Christensen (DNK):
"Let's hope for good weather on the north side of the Alps! Lots of action there! "
Maxime Pinot (FRA4)
"The French Alps in zig zag! Yahoooo! "
Tobias Grossrubatscher (ITA2)
"Amazing Route....!! "
Kaoru Ogisawa (JPN):
"How do you describe the first half north-south zigzag and the second half east-west zigzag legs? It is a route that does not go in a straight line!"
Eduardo Garza (MEX):
"The route is fantastic! Weather will tell if it is a fast race across the sky or a seemingly endless grind on the ground. For a race that starts in June, it's quite a Northerly route, but in the Alps, weather is always a gamble regardless. We are hoping for the best, but training for the worst. In terms of cruxes, airspace around Innsbruck and strong valley winds can create some interesting route choices between Kronplatz & Lermoos. On the other hand, Titlis can make or break your race depending on your timing. Lastly, the last turnpoints after St. Hilaire could prove very tricky not only due to the topography but also possible airspace regulations. We can't wait to explore this route!"
Chrigel Maurer already made his statement at the Route Announcement Press Conference. Here's the full video!
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Nick Neynens (NZL1):
"Wow - nine boards to sign! At 3,200m I think Titlis will be my favourite. The Messner museum is also really cool (maybe I can check it out while waiting for my supporters to catch up?) It links a lot of places I know together. I think the biggest obstacle on this route is Innsbruck air space. Not too bad. Even the French side of Mont Blanc is open."
Kinga Masztalerz (NZL2):
"'The most challenging in the event’s 16-year history!’ A very interesting one, a few turnpoints on mountain peaks, a few low in the valleys. Some parts like Aschau to Kronplatz or Titlis turnpoint might be magical in good conditions or really hard in bad weather, especially in June, with all the snow still in the mountains. Unusually, there are a few turnpoints in the French Alps at the end, zig-zagging among some national parks through tricky terrain which I haven't flown much. I hope to have an opportunity this year! On the other hand, I'm sure everybody is thrilled there are no Italian flats involved in 2019! "
Toma Coconea (ROU):
"The Red Bull X-Alps 2019 is announced! This year's race will be the most technical up until now. Although the distance in the right line is exactly the same as in 2017, the difficulty increased considerably. In short, we will officially begin preparations."
Chrigel Maurer (SUI1):
"There’s a pressure, the route is very difficult because of the crossing of the Alps many times and the Turnpoints being in the valleys and up high. I do know the [Swiss] part well but this can cause problems. I think I know it well and often make mistakes and lose a lot of time. I will try to do this Swiss part as though it’s for the first time. With this mode, I hope to do it right. For me, the most challenging part is the end. Instead of going straight down to Monaco it zig-zags and it’s difficult, steep valleys and a lot of trees. We will see."
Patrick von Känel (SUI2):
"We are glad the route is announced now and super happy that a big part of it goes through Switzerland this year. We’re curious which team arrives in Davos first!"
Juraj Koren (SVK):
"The dice are thrown. This is going to be the track I have to make at the Red Bull X-Alps. The route is a good 1,138 km as the crow flies, but it will be twice as much in reality. What will it bring? Fatigue, fear, pain and distress? Or joy?"
Baris Celik (TUR):
"I watched the broadcast live with my hands sweating. Normally this only happens the day before I climb a new and tough route on a mountain face! I have to say that we are happy because we don’t really know that area well, so let’s say ignorance is the source of our spirit to complete this adventure through incredible routes and steep valleys. Of course, the contest period will be a little long but my excitement is growing exponentially. First, we will start training in Bassano in Italy. Remember to follow."
Gavin McClurg (USA1):
"This one is easily the hardest edition yet. If the weather is decent and somewhat flyable, a lot of the route is along flying "super highways" and could be very fast. A big chunk of it is in Chrigel's backyard. Ouch. That bit from Davos all the way past Mont Blanc and the Engelberg Turnpoint is literally his playground. Don't lose the Eagle early! Most of the early Turnpoints are all sign boards in the valleys. Tactically this is really tough, and makes good flying days REALLY tough mentally- just a bummer to land on a good day. But it makes it more exciting for the spectators! That zig zag stuff in the Maritime Alps means once we take Mont Blanc the race is a LONG ways from over. In the past it became kind of a sprint from Chamonix down to Monaco. No longer. A lot more complicated, way more wicked terrain, and potentially some wicked, wicked flying. The race starts June 16th, three weeks earlier than normal. [That means]... a LOT more snow. Some of the high crossings are going to make slogging on foot wretched. Should we bring ski touring kit? Waterproof shoes suck, as do mountaineering boots. As always, it all depends on the weather."
What else does the route mean for the athletes? Read the key points in our Route Analysis!
Photo © zooom / Christian Lorenz