Stanislav Rezac (CZE) wins La Transju'Classic – this year's FIS Marathon Cup – for the 6th time; Tatjana Mannima (EST) victorious on the women's side
After very strong winds the days before, the race day offered a much calmer setting for the over 800 racers of teh 56km CT Transju'Classic – this year's 4th FIS Marathon Cup. The sun was also at the rendez-vous to make the -8°C at the start very bearable. However, the conditions were still very hard and demanding for this long race.
The race pack soon after the start stretched out and already at the bottom of the Risoux forest, at around km 30, a group of only about 6 racers was leading. Right in front also the later best two: Stanislav Rezac and Petr Novak (both CZE), who had both decided to ski without kick wax in order to have a better glide, relying foremost on the strength of their arms.
For the third place, a hard battle was faught in the end between Jean-Marc Gaillard and Benoit Chauvet (both FRA), taking it to a tight finish sprint in which the first could place his foot just some centimetres over the finish line before Chauvet. However, it hadn't always looked as if the second in the overall FIS Marathon Cup, Chauvet, would be up for a battle for the podium places. Already in Bellefontaine, with around 26km to go, he had quite a large gap to the leading pack, trying hard to close it, spending precious energy which he then lacked in the finish sprint as he analysed himself right after the race.
Gaillard however, a member of the French National Ski Team and Bronze Medal winner with his team in the relay at the Sotchi Olympic Winter Games last year, could always keep close contact to the first. The biggest battle he had to fight was with his own body as he suffered from cramps over half of the race distance.
On the women's side, the later three best - Tatjana Mannima (EST), Holly Brooks (USA), Aurelie Dabudyk (FRA) - skied the whole time together in a group with several fellow male racers, leaving the decision also until the finish. Here, Tatjana Mannima (EST) attacked in the finish stretch and left the others way behind, fighting out second and third place, which went to Brooks and Dabudyk respectively.
Novak (CZE) now leads the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 280 points, Brooks (USA) continues to lead on the women's side with now 260 points
With their second places, Petr Novak (CZE) and Holly Brooks (USA) could extend their lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup. Novak now leads with 280 points in front of Benoit Chauvet (FRA, 195 points) and Toni Livers (SUI, 150 points), who had to renounce his start for today due to sickness.
On the women's side, Brooks now leads with 260 points in front of Aurelie Dabyduk (FRA, 214 points) and Tatjana Mannima (EST, 167points).
The complete result list from today's race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing:
The statements of the best 3
1st Stanislav Rezac (CZE):
I am very happy that I could win this race again! I didn't know that I had already won it that many times, but it's a really nice race and I like to ski here. But as it was FIS Marathon Cup today, a lot more god athletes took part and I wasn't so sure if I would win it again. Anyway, it was a hard race, too. The wind was not too much of a problem however – it was blowing so much more yesterday during training, so it was ok today .It's a long time since I won a FIS Marathon Cup! My next races will normally be the Vasaloppet and the Bieg Piastow.
2nd Petr Novak (CZE):
Stanislav was just too strong for me today, so I am very happy with my second place. It was a tough race and right before the start I wasn't so sure anymore if my choice of going without kick wax was the right one, as I saw the tracks being redone but with the wind blowing snow back into the tracks, it helped me. I am happy of course that I could also increase my lead in the FIS Marathon Cup as winning the overall is really my goal this season. My next race will be the American Birkebeiner.
3rd Jean-Marc Gaillard (FRA):
I basically had cramps from the Risoux forest on – no matter how I tried to move, they stayed and made my life pretty miserable. However I tried to push on and to stay in contact with the two Czechs who were very strong. For how the race went for me, I am very happy that I could make it to the podium, it was only too bad that I couldn't show that I am capable of more.
1st Tatjana Mannima (EST):
I am soooooo happy! It's so amazing to be back on the podium!!! It was a hard race but we three girls worked well together the whole way through. In the end, I felt very good so I thought I just give it a go. I pushed hard and somehow the others couldn't follow. I am just so happy!
2nd Holly Brooks (USA):
It's my first time here, I ddidn't know tha track, I had never seen the finish so I didn't really know where to go and what to expect. My eyes were watering and I almost couldn't see anything so I just pushed on and on. I didn't know where I was and where exactly the other girls were in the end – I just pushed on. Today, it was really a great “girls race” with us three working together and battling throughout the whole race and until the end. I am really happy that I could extend my lead in the overall FIS Marathon Cup and am now looking forward to going home and enjoying some time off before the American Birkebeiner.
3rd Aurelie Dabyduk:
This was really at tough race and sometime I didn't really know if I was only stumbling or still skiing. We worked very well together as girls which was great, however, the wind was still hard at some points. It was good that we were in a bigger group with some men. I am really happy that I could make it to the podium – I simply didn't have any energy left for the finish sprint.