Chrigel Maurer goes to work on home turf.
There are days in the Red Bull X-Alps that are impossible to predict – and are sheer joy to follow online or on the ground – and this was one of them.
It was a day to sit back, put everything in the ‘do tomorrow’ folder, tune into Live Tracking and watch as the master went to work, picking off two Turnpoints, leaving his nearest rival in the valley and still managing to end the day with a final flight to finish up within touching distance of yet another Turnpoint.
There’s nothing one can say about Chrigel Maurer that hasn’t been said already a thousand times. Flying with remarkable economic efficiency he’s able to find lift where others do not, soaring like a bird. Like an eagle. And yet, as his joint Prologue win has made clear, he is only able to make these extraordinary flights thanks to his ability to hike up into position, sometimes climbing thousands of vertical meters a day. (The size of his calf muscles are testament to his strength.)
So the facts are that he started the day not far from Turnpoint 5, Lermoos Tiroler Zugzspitz Arena, and after hiking up with Maxime Pinot (FRA4) he was able to get away first, landing at Davos at lunchtime. He then hiked halfway up a hillside, taking advantage of good thermal conditions to fly the 100km straightline distance to Titlis, top-landing at the 3,200m Turnpoint (the highest in the race) shortly after 5pm.
A final glide back down the valley saw him finish up near the town of Grindelwald, within touching distance of the Eiger, leaving fans and supporters scratching their heads, wondering, how did he just do that? And remember, these weren’t amazing flying conditions. He did this on a day full of tricky weather and difficult launches.
Maxime Pinot (FRA4) also put in an extraordinary effort today and should be happy with his performance. He is now over 70km ahead of his nearest rival and that at least should give him some breathing space.
While the battle up front captured fans’ attentions there were plenty of other epics and adventures going on further back in the field as the main pack passed through Lermoos and headed to Davos. Behind the leaders, Aaron Durogati (ITA1), Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) and Gaspard Petiot (FRA2) make up the top five, with Patrick von Känel and Benoit Outters just behind.
In other news, Evgenii Griaznov (RUS) has pulled his Night Pass. This will allow him to keep moving after the other athletes are forced to stop for the evening at 10.30pm. The 46-year-old Russian is in 19th position, heading for Turnpoint 5.