Tor des Géants® does not stop to surprise. The much sought-for “triple” for Franco Collé has vanished, as the Italian quit in Rifugio Dondena, won by a problem at the eyes which already hindered him in Cogne, where he stopped for three hours: after a security clearance by the doctors he was again on the route, losing his first position, but decided to wave goodbye to his dream.
On the lead is now Oliviero Bosatelli, who in Donnas overcame Romain Olivier, stopped one hour to get a massage but very aware of the difficulties to come. “Bosa” was in Sassa at 3.03 p.m., but just 4 minutes behind was Olivier, nibbling away almost 15 minutes at the Italian. Third, 30’ behind Bosatelli, Galen Reynolds, who will try to do better than his second position in 2018.
The women ranking is proceeding quietly – if ever such an adverb can be used at TOR. Leading firmly is last year’s winner, Silvia Trigueros Garrote, in Donnas at 4.23 p.m.. The Spanish had, in Champorcher, almost 1h30 of advantage on Jocelyne Pauly and 2h30 on Sonia Furtado.
In the afternoon the race lost two more protagonists: Denise Zimmermann, winner in 2015, and Simon Gfeller, both out in Cogne. Also the oldest participant withdrew from the race: 73-year-old Joaquim Sampaio. More than 140 is now the number of retired runners.
The first, rough night
Rough night, this first night at Tor des Géants®: cold, snow at the passes, illustrious withdrawals and changes in the rankings have marked the first 24 hours of the race.
In the morning, on the lead in Cogne was French Olivier Romain, inside the life base at 4.40 a.m. and out at 5.15. Behind him, two of the main candidates for the final victory: Galen Reynolds, from Canada, and Oliviero Bosatelli, king in 2016, who left Cogne, respectively, at 5.35 and 5.42. A radically changed ranking if we look at last night’s positions, when Franco Collé was leading ahead Peter Kienzl. As said before, the Aosta Valley athlete had stopped in Cogne for almost three hours, leaving as ninth. Worse situation for Kienzl, who stopped his TOR in Eaux Rousses due to an ankle problem after a training last week.
Silvia Trigueros Garrote, exploiting last year’s experience – which led her to the victory –, is speeding up, running in twelfth position overall. Almost one hour behind was Jocelyne Pauly and, detached, Sonia Furtado.
Illustrious withdrawals, as we said. Besides Peter Kienzl, also Stefano Ruzza and Lisa Borzani left the race.
Tor des Glaciers: Luca Papi on the run
It is not easy to follow the Argonauts, as Tor des Glaciers heroes have been named. Because the 84 participants (out of 98 starters) still on the race are now quite separated along the 450 km, and because the valleys and passes that they cross are accessible only to those who really are prepared for high mountain. Also because, last night, temperatures touched the – 15° at Col Loson, 3300 metres, as a young French runners told.
GPS are then necessary, spreading all over the Aosta Valley and moving forward at every satellite connection, that is to say every ten minutes. From these signals, at 4 p.m. the first positions were the same: Luca Papi, Masahiro Ono and Luca Guerini are leading this adventurous patrol, followed by Spanish Javier Puit, who has been first for a good part of the race. Luca Papi has now a quite consistent advantage and is about to get to 260 km, leaving ahead of him 190 km: not a small amount, but the return to Courmayeur is now set, and this is an important psychological help.
Also the women ranking has not changed: Marina Plavan precedes Anouk Baars and Ligia Madrigal. Behind them, Ita Emanuela Marzotto.
If the average speed remains the same, the first arrivals of this fascinating and tough race can be in the first hours of Wednesday. Maybe at the same time as TOR’s. But many factors must be taken into account, i.e. the degree of the fatigue of the runner and the “behavior” of the weather. A new night at high altitude is on the way.