COURMAYEUR, ITALY – While we were still sleeping, probably dreaming about our Fantasy Football line-ups, early this morning in the main square of Courmayeur, 500 runners from 23 countries set out on the second edition of the Tor des Géants®. The footrace is a 330 km. race with 24,000 metres of vertical transition, a beautiful, long and great adventure which will take them on a complete tour of Valle d’Aosta, immersed in the heights of the Italian peaks.
The favorites are Ulrich Gross and his sister Anne Marie, along with the French competitor Christophe Le Saux.
During the press conference held on Saturday, the pressure was rising in the Gross family, both of whom performed well during the 2010 edition of the tour.
Ulrich affirmed “This is a very important race for me, I’ve trained hard and I’m ready.”
Anne-Marie adds, “In order to arrive at the finish line, I have to put all my effort into managing my energy for the duration of the race, which is non-stop. I need an iron-willed self-discipline to reach the finish line.”
The record that Ulrich has to beat is 80 hours 27 minutes, the time he took to complete the course last year, with a lead on the second competitor of 6 hours. Anne-Marie’s time last year was 91 hours 19 minutes, which gave her first place among the female runners.
Alessandra Nicoletti, director of the race, commented on the weather. “We seem to be lucky, the forecast is good. There should be mostly sunshine and warm weather for the whole week with the exception of a slight low pressure belt which could bring rain and some thunderstorms from the evening of Sunday 11th to Monday morning as well as Friday but above all Saturday 17th September.”
The intricate organization of the race is complete, with more than 1,200 volunteers scattered along the trail and 32 municipalities eager to receive the runners with warmth and hospitality.
At 12.45 p.m. at La Joux, two hours after the start of the race, a group of runners has already separated from the rest. In the lead is French runner Christophe Le Saux and the Spaniard Salvador Calvo Redondo, followed by two Italians, Ulrich Gross and Denis Brunod. Only 1.5 minutes separate the first two runners from the third and fourth positions. 5 minutes behind them is Luca Mauri from Italy, in fifth place. Regarding the female competitors, Anne-Marie Gross is in the leading position at her arrival in La Thuile at 12.43 p.m., 30 minutes behind the men’s group.
There are still 72 hours of the race to go — look for more coverage and photos as the tour continues.