Robin Duvillard and Anouk Faivre-Picon blew out the candles of La Transju’s 40th birthday cake
French athletes were present to honor the 40th birthday of La Transju’, victorious in the de 68 km mythic event that took place between Lamoura (Jura) and Mouthe (Doubs). And even if the extreme windy conditions forced a few changes in the event program, the birthday celebration was full of emotion.
« With this kind of wind, you have to invite Loïck Peyron and François Gabart », comments a participant jokingly at the finish line in Mouthe. It’s doubtful that these famous navigators will participate in La Transju’ anytime soon, but the 2 000 skiers at the start this Sunday morning at the Combe du Lac in Lamoura, were able to take advantage of the wind. With strong back-winds the stop-watches exploded, starting with Robin Duvillard (team Grenoble Isère), victorious in 2h28’41’’. A record track time set by the French Ski Federation ski member, Bronze medalist in the 2014 Olympics (Sotchi), to cover the 68 km distance between Lamoura and Mouthe, the original course of La Transju’. « I was prepared for 3 hours of effort, explains Duvillard, who was already winner in 2017 and who was looking for this boost after his deception of not being selected for the 50 km event in the upcoming World Championships (Seefeld, Autriche, beginning of March). Conditions were really perfect with the back-wind and great tracks. I’m thrilled to have been able to come home with a second victory of La Transju’. I hadn’t planned on skiing up front alone, but when we were in Les Rousses, no one was relaying the head of the race, so I decided to take over. I often tease the Jurassiens, but to be truthful, when it comes to Nordic skiing, they’re the best. What a pleasure it is to participant in an event like La Transju’ with this incredible atmosphere traversing the villages. It’s really lucky for our sport. This victory means a lot to me. My sports career is mostly behind me now and I’ll make the decision this spring as to what will come next. »
In second place in just over 5 minutes, Gérard Agnellet holds onto his ranking as leader of the FIS Worldloppet Cup, elite circuit the most important long-distance events in the world, including La Transju’ of course. « Robin was clearly the strongest today, he admits. He was really impressive and played us a little. Unfortunately, I fell between Les Rousses and Bois d’Amont and that cost me valuable contact with the head of the race. I even thought that I might not finish in the top 20. But this is La Transju’ and I owed it to myself to give it a good fight till the end. So looking back, I’m really happy with my second place. As far as my ranking in the FIS Worldloppet Cup is concerned and my leader’s bib, the next few races will determine whether or not I’ll make the Cup ranking my goal for the season. » Benoit Chauvet, winner of La Transju’ in 2011 and 2013, completed the podium.
A first for Anouk Faivre-Picon
Also predicted as a favorite in the ladies race, Anouk Faivre-Picon didn’t disappoint us. Like for Robin Duvillard, she finished with enough of a lead to crossing the finish line with the traditional Transju’ bell around her neck « La Transju’ is known all over the world and to come away victorious today is really amazing. It’s not a distance I’m used to so I was a little skeptical in the beginning. And when the going got a little tough I kept thinking of that bell at the finish line. I was really able to enjoy the mythical atmosphere of La Transju’ is known for. I, myself came to cheer on the racers when I was a little girl and now, here I am. » Céline Chopard-Lallier and Alicia Choron, her two team-mates in the Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté team joined her on the podium.
An unforgettable day
Even though conditions were difficult for most of the popular skiers today (for security reasons – strong gusts of wind between 110 and 120 km/h making the section traversing the Risoux forest dangerous – the race was neutralized for all competitors not reaching Bois d’Amont by 12 noon and la Transju’Marathon 48 FT was cancelled), champions and popular skiers alike are not likely to forget the mythical passages through the villages on the Transju’ tracks. Sensations and experiences full of emotion on a day far from ordinary and everyone present today is already gearing towards the next edition.
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