A sunny Saturday, with no wind and fresh snow was the best prelude to what Font Blanca’s individual race gave us today, with more than 100 racers gathered in Vallnord-Ordino Arcalis. The Italian team was the big protagonist of this second race of the ski mountaineering World Cup, with at least one racer on the podium in the three categories, both for men and women, and Robert Antonioli and Alba de Silvestro at the highest step of the podium.
The transalpine country was the big winner of the Senior Men category, with the first place for Roberto Antonioli (1:23:30) and the second place for Metteo Eydallin, 16 seconds behind. Davide Magnini almost coloured the entire podium with the green, white and red of the Italian flag, but a superb move from Xavier Gachet gave him the third place, only 5 seconds behind the second racer.
Antonioli had to fight quite a bit before crossing the finish line with his arms up. During the first uphill he had to resist the pressure of his team mate Michele Boscacci who tried to take the lead, in vain, and exhausted by the effort, ended up outside the leading group. The winner was also challenged by William Bon Mardion and Xavier Gachet but they had to finally give up, faced with the power and resistance of Antonioli and Eydallin. Both have ultimately widen distances to win the race in the last uphill of a new itinerary with departure and finish at the Els Planells area, after three uphills, adapted to the heavy snowfalls of the last couple of days and enjoy better the show of off track racing.
Antonioli geared up even more on the last run and arrived well ahead at the finish line: “It was fantastic. A really technical race, I am really happy to have won and also for all the logistics. The weather yesterday was not very good, and they were really great”.
Andorra’s best was Xavier Areny, in 30th position, achieving the objectives defined by the technical team: “I am really happy to be among the Top30, especially at home. We gave a really nice race to everybody who came to see us. They deserve it, and we deserve it all, including the technical team. It was a complicated week and today, the trackers and the organisation has done a great job. It was a really nice race. All racers agree that it was a nice individual race”. Gerber Martín was 31st, David Albós 39th and in the Espoir category, Sergi Casabella made it to the 38th position (10th Espoir), David Pèrez 42nd (13th Espoir) and Carles Serra 43rd (14th Espoir).
El nostre Xavier Areny, tot i que ell pensa que es podia millorar, ha fet un fantàstic 30è. Enorme mèrit quan competeixes contra coets amb esquís!! 🎿🚀#ViulaFontBlanca #FontBlanca2019 pic.twitter.com/7LaRS1Y5og
— Font Blanca (@FontBlanca_FAM) January 26, 2019
For women, the competition was even fiercer but again, Italy left its footprint with the victory of Alba de Silvestro who arrived more than half a minute ahead of her rivals. Sick only two days ago, de Silvestro admitted: “I was not feeling very well but in the end, I am really happy of how it went. In these conditions, I didn’t think I was going to win”. The show was even better with the last run for the second position. Claudia Galicia was clearly ahead of France’s Lorna Bonnel, but 10m away from the finish line, she lost one of her ski poles, her rival made it back to her and has even been about to pass her. A photo finish was needed to know who arrived second and who arrived third. “On the first two uphills, I was first at the top and feeling well but afterwards they came closer to me on the downhills and in the last run, I lost a pole, which was what made it all worse. But the public was great, encouraging me, and I kept on fighting. When I lost my pole, I thought about picking it up but as it was not mandatory to finish with it, I decided to continue without it and finished second”.
🇦🇩 Final apoteòsic en la lluita pel segon lloc a la individual sènior femenina. Qui i contra qui?
🇬🇧 Amazing fight for the second place on the individual race finish line. Who vs who?#FontBlanca2019 pic.twitter.com/jcQfOnLxxR
— Font Blanca (@FontBlanca_FAM) January 26, 2019
Two out of two also for Espoirs
Magnini, who almost made it to the general podium, was first in the Espoir category (1:25:29), ahead of France’s Thibault Anselmet (1:27:49) and Belgium’s Maximilien Drion (1:28:06). For women, Giulia Murada (1:52:43), his compatriot, also won, followed by France’s Lena Bonnel (1:55:10) and Spain’s Julia Casanova (1:56:38).
In the junior category, the 6th position of Andrea Sinfreu is worth noting, in a women category dominated by Russia’s Ekaterina Osichkina (1:13:37), with Switzerland’s Emilie Farquet (1:21:36) in second position and Italy’s Samantha Bertolina (1:24:31) in third position. For men, the fastest was Switzerland’s Aurélien Gay (1:30:53), with Italy’s Sébastien Guichardaz (1:32:15) in second position and another Swiss, Patrick Perreten (1:32:48) in third position.
Font Blanca continues tomorrow with the vertical race in Vallnord Pal-Arinsal, broadcasted live on Andorra TV. Departure will be at 9:30 for the open race, accruable for the Park Piolet Andorra Cup. At 10.30, the junior women World Cup will follow, at 10.45h the junior men, at 11.05h the senior women World Cup and at 11.40h, the senior men.