Race for third
The race is on! Maurer has secured his victory but now the real race begins for second and third place. With 34km to goal and a Night Pass in his pocket Maxime Pinot’s podium looks secure. All he has to do is put one foot in front of the other for six or seven hours and second place is his.
But the battle for third just got really interesting. It’s no longer a two-way fight between Guschlbauer and Outters but a three way struggle after the young Swiss athlete Patrick von Känel just joined the fray with a spectacular day of flying.
As of 8pm, Guschlbauer and Outters were on the ground and neck and neck with 114km to go while von Känel is still flying just eight kilometers behind them.
The three have all made great distances both in the air and on the ground as they crossed the Ecrins mountain range, bagged Monte Viso and now head towards Cheval Blanc.
Guschlbauer has today hiked 35km and flown 155km. Outters on the other hand has hiked 30km but flown 204km. But just see what the youngster from Switzerland has pulled off. He’s hiked only 19km today, but flown 283km. Remember, this is a guy who’s exceeded 500km in a paraglider (in Brazil). He is very dangerous in the air.
He is now a serious challenger for third and could cause a huge upset to both Guschlbauer and Outters’s plans. With just over a day and a half left of racing, anything could yet happen.
Further back in the field, athletes have been enjoying mixed days. Marko Hrgetic (HRV), in 20th, told us: “Such a stable day that you can't even stay in the air. Zero wind, zero thermals. Going up for another bombout.” Meanwhile, Gavin McClurg (USA1) in 14th, reports: “Worst damn flying conditions I've ever seen. I'll take thunderstorms and gust fronts and snow over this stable soup! 3600m of climbing, four flights, and I've heard my vario beep once.”
But athletes still seem to be enjoying the experience. Despite lying in 17th place, New Zealand’s Nick Neynens told us this morning that he’s having a great race and enjoying the spectacular scenery every day.
Simon Oberrauner, currently in 9th place and battling tiredness and various issues, is still upbeat: “Every day is still a blessing. I love the race. I can still push. I’m still okay. I just want to be there until end.”
In fact the robustness of athletes this year is something that race officials have noticed. “I had a call with the race doctor this morning and he told me that he is amzed by the development of athletes’ performance,” race co-founder Ulrich Grill reported. “It has improved massively over the last editions. Normally at this satage we weould have 10 athletes or so already out.” So far only Antoine Girard has retired voluntarily.
Follow the race for the podium and for the finish line on Live Tracking!