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Font Blanca 2019 receives the racers’ praises in a week made more complicated by the snow

An authentic Sunday, with sun and temperatures above zero degrees before the race and with an intense snowfall for the Senior Men arrival at the finish line, have given a magical and typical Andorran winter touch to a Font Blanca 2019 Vertical race full of emotions. A few sprints in the final stretch have raised the admiration of the public who came massively, and the organization also generated some praise among the 100+ racers who gathered in the second race of the ISMF World Cup.

The President of Font Blanca 2019 and of the Andorran Mountaineeting Federation, Jaume Esteve, indicated that “we don’t have the ratings from ISMF yet”, but concluded with great satisfaction the weekend’s overview: “The balance is very good. All the work we have done before has resulted in a great race. A lot of people came to watch it, we had sun during both days, there was emotion in the race and the cherry on top of the cake has been the good snowfall at the end of the race, that reflects the spirit of ski mountaineering.

The Director of the race and designer of the itinerary, Carlo Ferrari, has been one of the main culprits of the organizational success. Up to four alternative itineraries has been planned for the individual race to overcome, with great success, a very complicated week, in which heavy snowfalls obliged the team to make up to two changes in the itinerary: “On Saturday, for the individual race, we used an alternative itinerary the racers enjoyed a lot. Today, for the vertical race, everything has gone according to plan. It was the perfect day to say goodbye to this year’s edition. We were worried, but now we are really satisfied. We have achieved what we expected and we want to thank all those who collaborated to this success”.

Switzerland rules the vertical race with Marti and Kreuzer

If Italy monopolized the individual race with the two titles in the senior category – De Silvestro and Antonioli -, 7 of the 18 possible podiums and 4 victories out of 6, Switzerland has proven to be the country that rules the vertical race. The Helvetic country offered a recital of strategy and power in the Senior Men category. Rémi Bonnet and Werner Marti have made a perfect team race, the first one leading, setting a pace that left rivals behind. Anton Palzer, defender of the title, had to conform to a sixth position.

Marti, followed cloasely by Bonnet during almost all the uphill, accelerated less than one kilometer away from the finish line and finished alone with a time of 27:39. Behind him came Bonnet (27:43) and third was the winner of the individual race, Robert Antonioli (28:07). "It was great. Today, from the beginning I had a lot of good feelings and when you do a good teamwork, it is more beautiful to win. He finished second, so it was a perfect day. We were delighted to come one more year and we look forward to coming back in 2020," the winner said.

The best Andorran was Jordi Solé in 33rd position: "I have been keeping myself in the Top-30 until the last stretch and in the end I couldn’t make it, but I am satisfied with how things have gone... It is more and more difficult to combine the competition with work. This sport is becoming more and more professionalized and you can really feel it." Gerbert Martin was 39th, David Albós 41st, Sergi Casabella 42nd, Carles Serra 45th, David Pérez 46th, Arnau Soldevila 47th and Euan Prieto 48th.

For women, Victoria Kreuzer completed the Swiss double by winning in Arinsal (34:24) after a tough Saturday: "I'm very happy to win. Travelling from Switzerland is very long and yesterday I felt very tired after the individual. I fell twice during the race but today the sensations have not been bad. I started cautiously, I increased progressively and I ended up giving everything", she commented with satisfaction.

Clàudia Galicia was one of the big winners of Font Blanca. Yesterday she proved she was an expert in sprints, surpassing the Italy’s Alba de Silvestro - first at the individual race and third today - by only five seconds to take second position: "I am very happy. 4 World Cups, 4 silver medals and a first position in the general ranking. Racing at home has been incredible, good weather, great organization, an really fun off-track itinerary for the individual and a very good vertical race. Thank you very much to everyone for the support you have given me while in Andorra and I hope we will see each other next year."

Andorra was represented by Sophie Dusautoir, who has stayed away from top international competitions for some time but was delighted to be the local racer in the Senior Women category, despite finishing in the 20th position: "I had a problem at the start, I lost a ski, but it was a pleasure to compete again at the highest level and even more at home. Racing here has no comparison."

In the Junior Men category, yesterday's podium was repeated with the victory of Switzerland’s Aurélien Gay, second position for Italy’s Sebastien Guichardaz and third position for Switzerland’s Patrick Perreten. Andorra’s Marcel Prat finished at the 17th position, out of 20 participants.

In Junior Women, Russia’s Ekaterina Osichkina gathered all victories, with Italy’s Samantha Bertolina second, and France’s Malaurie Mattana third. Andorra’s Andrea Sinfreu was eighth.

The World Cup closes this second race of the calendar and travels to Le Dévoluy-La Grande Trace, in France, who will host an individual race and a sprint next weekend, 2 and 3 February.

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