-14 degrees were announced for the start of the 76km FT La Transjurassienne in Lamoura, but in the end the thermometer showed just below -20! One had to dress warmly for the long voyage to Mouthe! An hour later, the women's 57km FT race started in Les Rousses, already under perfect sunshine. Arriving again in Bois d'Amont after the short loop into Switzerland, the later winner Celia Bourgeois (FRA) took her chances and pressed hard up the long uphill into the Risoux forest. Only Tatiana Manimaa (EST) could stay with her. Not too far behind, Stephanie Santer (ITA), Valentina Shevshenko and Antonella Confortola (ITA) followed.
On the men's side, they were around 30 when they arrived at the famous uphill in Les Rousses, the “montée de l'opticien” which always brings a bit of Tour de France feeling to cross country skiing as the spectators line up at the uphill to cheer the athletes. At the end of the long uphill in the Risoux forest however, only six racers were left of the big group. After the descend to Bellefontaine, only the later first and second placed Benoit Chauvet and Adrien Mougel were leading the race. Behind, a group of around ten athletes tried to catch the leading ones but one after the other chasers had to let go.
Almost the same picture on the women's side, as from Chapelle des Bois on, Celia Bourgeois was left to ski the last 25km on her own. Behind, Stephanie Santer (ITA) could catch Tatiana Manimaa (EST) who had to pay for the fast speed she was racing when staying together with Bourgeois. Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) could also move up in the ranking by not only surpassing Antonella Confortola (ITA) but also by catching Manimaa.
On the men's side, Benoit Chauvet pushed hard at about 15km before the finish and Adrien Mougel did not have as much energy left as the winner of La Transjurassienne of 2011. So, in the finish, it was a clear picture: Benoit Chauvet arrived with such a large margin that he could really enjoy his arrival in the finish, receiving the famous bell of La Transjurassienne and being celebrated by the big crowd of spectators.
Even though, the big bell was gone, second placed Adrien Mougel was as much cheered as the winner himself, arriving equally by himself in the finish. But it got interesting again with the finish sprint for the third place. Emilien Buisson (FRA) and Sergio Bonaldi (ITA), the second from last year, had a hard fight for the last spot on the podium. To make it a perfect day for France, it was the French who placed his foot first over the line and ensured himself the third place.
Celia Bourgeois, arriving also alone and with a large margin in front of the second women, could equally enjoy her arrival and the reception of the famous bell. Stephanie Santer came in second, also by herself as the other women could not catch her until the finish. It was then Valentina Shevchenko who was able to push the hardest and could ensure herself the third place in the end – not much challenged by the others during the last kilometres.
More than 7.000 spectators around the track cheered the athletes and made the race once more an unforgetable event. The feeding stations had an internal competition for the best costumes which animated racers and spectators alike! Perfect weather - sunshine throughout the race and great snow conditions - made the 35th edition of La Transjurassienne one of the best ever!
Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and Benoit Chauvet (FRA) now leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 166 points
Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) and today's winner Benoit Chauvet (FRA) are now leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 166 points each (having finished in the exact the same places) in front of the three Norwegians Joergen and Anders Aukland and Petter Northug (all NOR) who all have 160 points to their account.
On the women's side, the ranking is much clearer: Tatiana Manimaa (EST) is now leading again with 243 points in front of Seraina Boner (SUI, 240 points) and Antonella Confortola (ITA, 192 points).
The complete result list from today's race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing:
The statements of the best 3
Benoit Chauvet (FRA):
It's just amazing! I could already win this precious bell in 2011 but then it was on a different track due to lack of snow. Now I could win on the original track, the mystic one! That is just incredible! I wasn't very satisfied last year and I really wanted to be back on the podium but I hadn't thought that it would be the victory again for me today. Adrien and me, we worked very well together throughout the whole race as it was only us two from Bellefontaine on, which still left around 30km to ski. When we only had about 15km to go I thought I take my chances and go for it. Adrien couldn't follow and when I arrived at the finish area, I really enjoyed hearing and seeing the crowd cheering and then receiving the prestigious bell! With this weather and this snow...it was just a perfect day!!!
Adrien Mougel (FRA):
I am really satisfied with my second place. In the end Benoit was better and had more energy left, but I could hold off the others coming from behind and finishing second in this prestigious race, especially for us Frensh racers, it's just great! I was surprised when we were already only about six in the Risoux forest and then down in Bellefontaine, it was only Ben and me...so we had a quick chat and said that we have to try it and that we could do it if we would work together. That we did and did really well. The atmosphere here is just phantastic...there so many people on the track who cheer for you – it's amazing and great fun to race here!
Emilien Buisson (FRA):
What a great day! It was a great race, even though it was a really hard one! I was freezing almost the whole time...but that I could win the finish sprint against Sergio – it's just great! We saw Benoit and Adrien going and we couldn't do anything against it, so we tried to work together, but for sure, as we were several French in the group, we didn't try too much to catch them as we all wanted to have a French on the podium. During the last kilometres then, everybody races again for himself and I could put some space between me and the others, only Sergio followed, so in the end, the third place was decided at the finish sprint and I am very happy that I could win it! It's a wonderful race here and certainly something special for a French to be on the podium here! That we are now three – it's unbelievable. Especially with the strong skiers from outside of France on the start.
Celia Bourgeois (FRA):
It's incredible! I come from this area and even though if I do not live here anymore, this race still remains something special. To win this prestigious race, especially for French, it's something really special. It was a hard race though and I was very cold until the we climbed up into the Risoux forest. I felt good and when I saw that the others wouldn't follow I thought I rake my chance and push hard. When Tatiana cracked around Chapelle des Bois, I had to ski the last 25km alone. I always feared that she would come back so I pushed hard but when I heard in Chaux-Neuve that I had three minutes advantage, I started to take it a bit slower and to really enjoy the race. It's a fantastic day and I am very, very happy!
Stephanie Santer (ITA):
It's great to be back on the podium. It was a hard race, but it's a fantastic atmosphere which keeps you running. When I saw that Tatiana had to let Celia leave, and I caught her, I thought something might be possible. I am really happy with my second place, but I really want to have this big bell – so I will try again next year!
Valentina Shevchenko (UKR):
I was in Russia last week for the World Cup, so I was still a bit tired after a lot of travelling. Already in the start, when the other girls pushed really hard, I knew: This is not my day. I still tried to stay with the ones in front, but it didn't work out. When I caught Antonella and then Tatiana, I was surprised. I am really happy that I could still finish on the podium!
Important dates & Information:
February 17: Tartu Maraton (EST) - 7th FIS Marathon Cup 2012-13 / 63km CT
Pictures of the race can be found on the official Worldloppet Facebook Page!
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