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Matteo Eydallin – Damiano Lenzi, Laetitia Roux – Emelie Forsberg have won the 32nd edition of the Pierra Menta. They romped to victory on the fourth day - a big stage with over 2,000 m of elevation gain and several passages through the ‘torcida’ on the Col de la Forclaz, where more than 5,000 spectators lined the course to cheer on the athletes. A really challenging stage worthy of La Grande Course, with various stretches to be covered on foot, exposed ridges and particularly spectacular downhills.
The two Italian military teams first let their direct rivals expend their energy and then made their move, with a successful breakaway that brought Michele Boscacci, Nadir Maguet, Damiano Lenzi and Matteo Eydallin, to the finishing line in Le Planay together. An important stage success for the former which earned them third place overall, while for Lenzi-Eydallin it was their fourth win and gave them their umpteenth victory on the Tour de France of ski-mountaineering. It was Eydallin’s fourth overall victory and Lenzi’s third, won in the same ‘golden’ year that crowned him world skimo champion. The Piedmont duo had a finish time of 10h23’55” with a 13’18” lead over Kilian Jornet - Alexis Sevennec and 16’11” over Michele Boscacci - Nadir Maguet. In the final rankings, Filippo Barazzuol - Valentin Favre came fourth and Bon Mardion-Gachet fifth.
Emelie Forsberg and Laetitia Roux also wore victory smiles, winning the 32ª Pierra Menta convincingly with a total time 13h18’32” and a 18’30” gap over the Swiss duo Jennifer Fiechter - Séverine Pont Combe. Third with a time of 13h52’15” were the French girls Axelle Mollaret and Lorna Bonnel.
The athletes in the youth categories were also fêted enthusiastically at the finish line. In the Juniors race, a note-worthy victory went to the French duo Cèlia Perillart Pessey – Marie Pollet Villard. Ion second place were Florance Buchs – Mallaurie Mattana, while Melanie Ploner – Giorgia Felicetti came third.  The boys’ race was won by Stefan Knopf – Maximilien Drion while Arno Lietha – Patrick Perreten and Eddy Bouvet – Thibault Ansalmet also did extremely well.  
 In the cadet category Aurelien Gay – Léo Besson came first, in front of Mirko Sanelli – Alessandro Gadola and Kilian Granger – Maxime Trombert, while in the girls’ race, Madaline Paillard and Fanny Muffat succeeded in getting the better of Charlotte Iratzoquy – Clemence David and Aurelie Avanturier – Anna Folini. 

The sun shone brightly down on the skimo enthusiasts competing in the third stage of the Pierra Menta – a race that included juniors as well as the senior categories. The present and future of the discipline battled it out over tough, technical high-altitude trails, first trudging up the marked uphill tracks to then dive downhill using all their acrobatic skill.  And all this with a crusty snow that put both legs and equipment severely to the test.
The first surprise came even before the race started. The “Red Bull Boys”, Palzer and Bonnet, were not at the start. The Swiss athlete was in fact forced to withdraw because of a knee problem. The second surprise came during the race: just like yesterday, the army team Boscacci-Maguet once again had problems with their equipment. Second in the highest part of the race, the duo then paid the penalty and struggled to maintain third place in the final rankings.   
 At the finishing line, it was three out of three for the Damiano Lenzi- Matteo Eydallin dream team, who now boast an 11’15” lead in the general classification. Fourth today, after a mistake by Jornet on the last descent, but still second in the general classification were Kilian Jornet and Alexis Sevennec.  In third place, and third in the overall rankings, were Michele Boscacci and  Nadir Maguet. Other great protagonists of this 32ª Pierra Menta were the duo Valentine Favre –Filippo Barazzuol, who came second in the stage and are fourth overall.
 There were no surprises in the women’s race. Emelie Forsberg - Laetitia Roux have practically put their seal on the final victory: a 8’ lead over the Swiss couple Fiechter and Pont Combe. Third place went to the 2017 team champions Axelle Mollaret - Lorna Bonnel.
 As announced, Friday saw the entry into the race of the cadet – junior categories, with various  different courses - all extremely challenging - designed for them according to age. In the junior category, victory went to the French girls Cèlia Perillart Pessey – Marie Pollet Villard. In second place were the Italians Melanie Ploner – Giorgia Felicetti, while Florance Buchs – Mallaurie Mattana came third. In the boys’ race, the first stage was won by Stefan Knopf – Maximilien Drion. Eddy Bouvet – Thibault Ansalmet and Arthur Blanc – Ellmenreich Babtiste also did extremely well.  
 Amongst the cadets, Aurelien Gay – Léo Besson came in first, ahead of Kilian Granger – Maxime Trombert and Mirko Sanelli – Alessandro Gadola. In the girls’ competition Madaline Paillard and Fanny Muffat beat Charlotte Iratzoquy – Clemence David and Aurelie Avanturier – Anna Folini. 

 

 

The weather held up on the second stage of the Tour de France of ski-mountaineering. There was no rain, but a rise in temperature and extremely heavy, wet snow conditions severely tested competitors’ legs and equipment. The stage they were faced with was a massive one, covering a distance of 23km, with an elevation gain of over 2,100 m and a grand total of 5 climbs.

Right from the go, the Franco-Spanish duo made up of Alexis Sevennec – Kilian Jornet tried to force the pace. No problem, however, for the Italians, Damiano Lenzi – Matteo Eydallin, who kept close on the heels of their closest rivals, sprinting past them successfully and passing under the winning line in 2h43’47”. Second place went to Jornet – Sevennec in 2h44’54” while bronze was taken by Filippo Barazzuol – Valentine Favre in 2h46’27”. Back in sixth place after having to solve a few problems with their equipment during the race, the Italian duo Michele Boscacci – Nadir managed to catch up and finish fourth. A 5’ penalty for external logistical assistance put them back into fifth place behind the youngsters Anton Palzer.

In the women’s race, the “queen of ski mountaineering” Laetitia Roux immediately re-established her supremacy. After finding the right rapport with her strong partner Emelie Forsberg, she romped to stage victory in 3h0058”. Second place went to the Swiss couple, Jennifer Fiechter - Séverine Pont Combe, almost 8’ behind. Third once again were team race world champions Axelle Mollaret – Lorna Bonnel (3h31’22”).     

 

 

 

 

 

The new season of La Grande Course has got off to a flying start. Arêches, completely covered in snow, has something magical about it: a picture-postcard setting that enhances the fascination of the “Tour de France” of ski-mountaineering. At the first light of dawn, a long line of supporters could be seen making their way up the mountain to watch the exploits of their heroes, the heroes of La Grande Course.
 
According to the classifications, the winners on the day were Damiano Lenzi – Matteo Eydallin & Séverine Pont Combe – Jennifer Fiechter. As always, the Pierra Menta proved to be a fantastic race and the 32nd edition had all the trappings of a great event: lots of fresh snow, great champions, hordes of skimo enthusiasts and huge crowds of spectators.   
 
The athletes had to tackle 2213m of elevation gain spread over 7 climbs no less. Lots of transitions and well-marked trails which really brought out the best in the duo representing the Alpine army, Matteo Eydallin – Damiano Lenzi. Colonel Marco Mosso’s two young protégés held a convincing lead the whole way, winning in 2h17’05” in front of their comrades-in-arms, Michele Boscacci – Nadir Maguet 2h20’35” and the Franco-Spanish couple Alexis Sevennec – Kilian Jornet 2h21’55”. They were followed by William Bon Mardion - Xavier Gachet and the youngsters, Anton Palzer – Remì Bonnet.
 
In the women’s race, those who imagined that the super-team made up of Emelie Forsberg – Laetitia Roux would sail to victory were in for a surprise. Unexpectedly, the Swiss duo Jennifer Fiechter – Severine Ponte Combe were the first to cross the finishing line at Le Planay in 2h59’55”. Second place went to the French-Swedish couple (with a gap of 1’13”) while the champions of the team competition, Axelle Mollaret – Lorna Bonnel, came in third (3h01’13”).   

 


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