Sunday was the 5th Worldloppet in the FIS Marathon Cup Series: La Transjurassienne.
Since 1979 the Transjurassienne has been held on the third Sunday in February, and prides itself not only on attracting a large number of racers, but on the great international mix of racers who come to ski in one of seven events. This year there were nearly 4000 racers from 26 nations.
There are short and long classic races on Saturday, followed by short and long skate races on Sunday, the 52 km women’s skate and the 76 km men’s skate being the main Marathon Cup events. This year there was also an additional event, the Ultra Trans. Dubbed by race organizers as the “invincible skiers challenge”, it combines the 50km classic with the 76km skate for a total of 126 kilometers in 2 days.
The 54 kilometer race runs from Rousses to Mouthe, while the 76 kilometer race runs from Lamoura to Mouthe. The course winds along the base of the Jura Massif – a mountain range which divides France and Switzerland. The course crosses ten villages before ending in Mouthe, a small village in the French-Comte region of eastern France.
This year the snow and tracks were good, and the weather was a stable 20 degrees and partially cloudy at race time.
As usual in these Worldloppet events, the top ten in the men’s race finished within a close margin. Christophe Perrillat, of France, brought victory to the home event, after putting a 50 second gap on the field at the finish line. It was a four-way sprint to the finish for second place, which was won by Mathias Fredriksson of Sweden. Next across the line were Fabio Santus (ITA) in third, Rikard Andreasson (SWE) in fourth, and Bruno Carrara (ITA) in fifth. For Carrara, it matched last year’s effort. The two other repeat top-ten finishers were sixth place Sergio Banoladi (ITA) who had placed fourth last year and seventh place Marco Cattaneo (FRA) who had placed third last year.
Fredrickson, at 37 years, was the oldest finisher in the top ten whereas eighth place Thibault Mondon of France, at 25 years old, was the youngest.
Fredrickson wrote on this blog that the race for him this year was a much better experience than when he had raced for the first time, 10 years ago, and had hit a wall 10 kilometers from the finish. Fredrickson also wrote of this year’s victorious “rematch” with Catteneo, who had beaten him two years ago in this race.
The following is roughly translated from Fredriksson’s blog:
“First 35 km went pretty smoothly today, it was hard driving, mixed with lots where the pack was almost completely quiet … no one wanted to take an uphill battle … but in the long climb between 37 and 46 km we became a 10 man cluster. . . it was just a bit of climb at 63 kilometers [which mad a small gap in the pack]. When I felt that I needed help to catch up to the Frenchman [Perillat], I stepped aside to let the Italians [take the lead]. Then I fell like an ox … and got stuck with the ski tip down in the snow (must have looked funny) and then … had to work hard to join the group again. Back at the Peloton, nobody took up the hunt for Perrillat seriously (I was too tired at the time). So he had over 30 seconds [into the finish stretch].”
Rezac Stanislav, a top competitor at Marathon events, decided to compete in the 50 km classic, which did not give him any points for the FIS Marathon cup rankings. He won the 50km race by just one second over Alexandre Rousselet of France.
Rousselet was perhaps the story of the weekend. After taking second in the 50 km classic race on Saturday, he then took 10th – finishing less than 3 minutes from first place – in the 76 km skate on Sunday, making him the winner of the new Ultra Trans event.
There was a sprint for the top three places in the women’s 50km race. Suzanne Nystrom of Sweden took first by a slim two second margin. Natascia Leonardi Cortesi (SUI) and Pia Sundstedt (FIN) had a virtual photo finish at the line, Cortesi taking second by less than two tenths of a second.
With her win, Nystrom now sits in second place on the overall FIS Marathon Cup points list, with 260 points. In first in Jenny Hansson, also of Sweden, with 325 points.
With his third place finish in today’s race Fabio Santus is now at the top of the points list, with 265 points. In second is Oskar Svard of Sweden, with 226 points and third is today’s 7th place finisher, Marco Cattaneo, with 203 points.
The top American finisher in the 76km skate was Christophe Martin of Repentigny, Quebec, in 268th place with a time of 4:18:46. There were no American women listed.
The top American finisher in the 50km classic was Mark Sharon, of Plymouth Massachusetts in 207th place with a time of 3:30:47. The top American woman was Denise Snow of Divide, Colorado, in 72nd place with a time of 4:56:17.
Top Ten Men, 76 km skate, FIS Marathon Cup event:
1. Christophe Perrillat (FR) 3:23:39.44
2. Mathias Fredriksson (SWE) 3:24:28.74
3. Fabio Santus (ITA) 3:24:29.79
4. Rikard Andreasson (SWE) 3:24:30.40
5. Bruno Carrara (ITA) 3:24:30.64
6. Sergio Bonaldo (ITA) 3:24:31.74
7. Marco Cattaneo (ITA) 3:24:38.68
8. Thibault Mondon (FRA) 3:24:45.12
9. Vadim Nesterov (RUS) 3:24:52.86
10. Alexandre Rousselet (FRA) 3:26:31.30
Top 5 Women 52 km skate, FIS Marathon Cup event:
1. Suzanne Nyström (SWE) 2:43:51.66
2. Natascia Leonardi Cortesi (SUI) 2:43:53.94
3. Pia Sundstedt (FIN) 2:43:54.09
4. Lena Pichard (SUI) 2:45:45.69
5. Pauline Caprini (FRA) 2:47:41.02