The dramatic south face of Austria’s Hochkonig massif today played host to epic battles and duels between athletes as both the leader and chaser packs took advantage of flyable conditions on the way to Turnpoint 3, Aschau-Chiemsee.
In the lead was five-time champion Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) but this year he’s got company in the form of French athletes Benoit Outters (FRA1) and Maxime Pinot (FRA4), as well as Austria’s Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1).
They all reached the Turnpoint at about 2:00pm before starting the journey to Turnpoint 4, Kronplatz, 120km to the south, which they could reach as early as tomorrow morning.
Being able to get into the air was a huge relief for athletes who’d spent most of yesterday afternoon and much of this morning hiking up to 50km. Time in the air means time not spent hiking, and that’s always good news for sore legs and blistered feet.
The effort on the ground was not in vain, however, as most of the field had cleared Turnpoint 2, Wagrain-Kleinarl, by 8:00am this morning. First to make the Turnpoint yesterday evening was Toma Coconea (ROU), who arrived to huge cheers from a crowd of well-wishers who’d stayed up to see him come in. Maurer was next, arriving just minutes before the mandatory rest stop begins at 10.30pm, having hiked non-stop for six hours.
With Wagrain-Kleinarl cleared most athletes have now switched their focus to Turnpoint 3, Aschau-Chiemsee in Germany.
Charging hard behind the leader group was the first gaggle of chasers, consisting of Manuel Nübel (GER1), Simon Oberrauner (AUT2), Toma Coconea (ROU) and Aaron Durogati (ITA1), who managed to recover from a slow start and a night spent on the top of the Tennen mountains, to blast through the rankings.
One athlete has pulled a Night Pass today – Lebanese rookie Rodolphe Akl. With the first elimination of the last-placed athlete taking place on Wednesday, his position is now looking very dangerous and he’ll be hoping to leapfrog a few places to get out of the danger zone.
Head over to Live Tracking to find out what happens next. www.redbullxalps.com.