Friday, July 29, 2011

Red Bull X-Alps 2011: A Tight Race For Second Place

As Maurer relaxes on the beaches of Monaco, his followers in the Red Bull X-Alps are sweating it out in the skies.
Today served up strong thermals and a generous portion of north-westerly winds: the perfect ingredients to help speed Toma Coconea (ROM, picture attached) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT) on their way south. Right now, it’s a tight contest between race veteran Coconea and rookie Guschlbauer for second place. Coconea has flown this route before, making it to Monaco in 2007, while for Guschlbauer it’s uncharted territory. Both athletes have been riding thermals as high as 3500 m, and Coconea is now less than 125 km from goal. Meanwhile, Guschlbauer is around 20 km behind him.
Race commentator David Dagault, who has flown several 300 km + flights and finished 2nd in the 2003 edition, said that flying conditions just got better the further south the athletes travelled.
Jon Chambers (GBR) and Martin Muller (SUI) are in fourth and fifth positions. Both live in Geneva and have a home advantage over Ferdinand Van Schelven (NED) and Michael Gebert (GER) who have been snapping at their heels over the last two days. Chambers made a break for it this morning, flying the south-easterly faces while others hiked.
With the race closing at 16:22 tomorrow, making the right moves now is now more crucial than ever.
In other news, Steve Nash (GBR) was disqualified yesterday evening for infringing a forbidden zone near Locarno. This morning, Nash reported he was already missing the race. "You'd think that after a first proper night's sleep I'd be over it, but it was such fun, such a challenge, getting up and going for it day after day", he said.
Eighteen athletes continue the race.

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