Joe Symonds and Jethro Lennox of Team Inov-8 Gore-Tex Footwear delivered the evidence today that the hitherto dominant Spanish leaders of Team Trangoworld Gore-Tex are not entirely invincible. The Scottish racers mastered today’s stage from Mals to Schlanders across the infamous Rappenscharte (3,012 m) in 3:42:52.8 hours – quite a feat since the course packed no less than 36.90 kilometers and a whooping vertical gain of 2.063 meters.
Second to arrive in the midday heat of Schlanders were German Philipp Reiter and French Julien Chorier of Team Salomon International (3:55:46.6) who had certainly tried but did not manage to keep up with the pitiless pace of Symonds / Lennox. The latter had clearly decided to pursue the uncompromising mission of dethroning the Spanish leaders at least once in the 2011 GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run.
By the time they reached the first catering stop (1,824m), the Scottish racers indeed had distanced themselves quite successfully from the strong vanguard posse of podium contenders booking a lead of four minutes. In fact, they managed not just to carry that principle across the legendary Rappenscharte, but even to enlarge it modestly. Symonds and Lennox were clearly exulted that their risky strategy to go full out paid off as planned.
“We knew that it was going to be a very steep ascent and kept our focus on maintaining our lead. After reaching the pass we gave all on the descent to keep ahead” revealed Symonds, clearly touched by the triumphant finish.
Lennox, at 34 years of age the senior teammate of the two, shared “Actually our objective for the last two stages was to defend our second-place position. But it’s very rewarding that we were able to claim a stage victory after all.”
Symonds added “It’s good to know that we’re still up to it because we came here to win the race. The two Spaniards (Caballero and Lopez) really surprised us. May be we’ll manage next year.”
Injury forces leading women Miro and Jimenez to withdraw
Things clearly didn’t go according to plan, when professional athletes Mireia Miro (ESP) and Stephanie Jimenez (FRA) realized at today’s start that the tendonitis in Miro’s right foot had not improved any over night.
After owning the race to date with already six stage victories and only two more to go, the dominant Women’s team decided to give it at least an honest try. However, to no avail since a pain-stricken 23-year-old Miro simply could not carry on upon reaching the first food stop. This misfortune brings what were well-founded title aspirations to an abrupt and unexpected end.
A disappointed Miro shared “Of course, I knew already last night that something was wrong. But naturally I wanted to see if I could get by.”
The unexpected withdrawal of the leading Women team ultimately benefited Claire Gordon and Fiona Maxwell of Team Shettletrot who had repeatedly run formidable times over the course of the last stages but had always trailed the leaders with little hope to outrun them.
Today, they finally were first to arrive in Schlanders in 4:56:57.7 hours claiming the overall lead as well. Jubilant about their first stage victory, they were still saddened by the unexpected withdrawal of the leaders. Gordon revealed “We had no idea that they had to quit. We were convinced that they got taped up at the catering stop. Mireia and Stephanie so much deserved winning this race after their performance so far.”
Second to cross the finish line in Schlanders were Brigitte Eggerling and Daniela Nusseck of Swiss Alpinrunner Team (5:18:08.7) who were overjoyed to make it onto the podium on such a tough day. Third place went to Germans Gerti Ott and Sabine Kraus of Orthomol Sport Team Lautrach (5:46:13.2).