Transju’Classic: Antoine Auger and Marie Kromer lead the charge
On Saturday the Transju’Classic 56 CT has crowned French Antoine Auger and Marie Kromer, winners for a second year in a row. On Sunday the French athletes could shine again in the 40th edition of the Transju’ that will go back to its original 68 kilometres long route between Lamoura (Jura) and Mouthe (Doubs). A unique experience for the pro and the corinthians too, who will live the unique experience of being part of the biggest nordic ski event in France.
Some rain and wind were not enough to discourage the participants to the Transju’. No less than 650 athletes were on the starting line of Rousses for the Transju’Classic, the first race of the weekend with its 56 kilometres route to be covered in classic style to reach the finish in Mouthe. The Transju’Classic has crowned two habitués. Antoine Auger (E-Liberty Ski Team)who reiterated his win from last year. Auger started together with Thomas Joly (Team Nordique Crédit Agricole Franche-Comté) left the rest of the peloton in the ascent of the Risoux, (23rd km) and skied in synch with Joly until the last stretch from the finish, where he overtook him on the final straight line. Jean-Baptiste Viard-Gaudin (Arêches-Beaufort) completed the podium, distanced by ten minutes. “I’m speechless, I have no words to explain how I feel,” said the winner, who is from Chaux-des-Prés, some ten kilometres from Rousses. “My first victory was great, but this one is even better. At the start I was feeling ok. We kept en eye on each other in the group, then Thomas and myself left on the ascent of the Risoux. Thomas is young (20) and has a bright future in front of him, I was wary of him. I’m really very happy. I am only 23 but my career is already super positive so far with these two wins in the Transju’Classic. I was born here in the region and the Transju’ means a lot for me. I’m over the moon…”
Marie Kromer, who is from the same team E-Liberty, did not need to sprint to get her third back to back victory in the Transju’ Classic. The nordic skier from Haute-Savoie who will celebrate her 26th birthday on Monday, has also found her way to victory in the ascent of the Risoux. None of her competitor could keep he pace and Marie thus had the chance to cross the finish line in solitude, with the winner’s bell around her neck. “I’m really happy because the Transju’, is the best and most iconic nordic ski race in France, both in skating or classic style.” Declared Marie. “It feels good to win, especially in this difficult conditions, with this cold rain. The snow was better than last year but the weather has made the race tougher. At the end, I was so looking forward to the finish. In three weeks’ time I will be on the starting line of the Vasaloppet in Sweden and the Transju’ has made me more confident.”
Robin Duvillard and the French group aim at the Transju’
On Sunday the skating style enthusiasts will tackle the historic Transju’ (start at 8:30am) on the original route: 68 kilometres between Lamoura (Jura) and Mouthe (Doubs).
A stage of the Worldloppet, the circuit that includes the world’s most prestigious long-distance races, the Transju’ has drawn an exceptional line-up in the Elite class. Robin Duvillard, who won in 2017, will be the one to watch in this race that he looks forward to with impatience. “I’ve raced the Transju’ three times already but twice on a route of around 50 kilometres,” explains the relay bronze medallist at Sochi 2014. “The only time I’ve done the whole distance was at least ten years ago. I’m super happy to go back to the original route. The true Transju’ is the one between Lamoura and Mouthe. I’m very much looking forward to it. And even if I planned to come anyway, this race is a good way to wash away the deception of not having been called for the 50 kilometre race at the Worlds in Seefeld (Austria, on March 3).”
To take over Ivan Perrillat-Boiteux’s 2018 success, who is not participating this year, Duvillard will have to fend off the attacks from his compatriots and namely Gérard Agnellet, silver last year and current leader of the Worldloppet, but also Loic Guigonnet, Bastien Poirrier, Jérémie Millereau (winner in 2015), Benoît Chauvet (winner in 2011 and 2013), Adrien Mougel, etc. “ The French are often in the leading pack in these long-distance races,” explains Duvillard. “The competition will be fierce. The weather forecast (rainy and windy conditions) can make the race tougher in terms of waxing. I hope it will be a fair race and there won’t be many differences. Tactically, I will need to be on the alert, solid and to take opportunities at one point.”
Besides the sports aspect Robin Duvillard underlines the unique atmosphere of this race. “I love this sharing side, the spirit of a race like the Transju’ is different from the one you find in the World Cup event. The “Sunday skier “has the chance to race side by side with top athletes. There are very few disciplines where you can find this and that is why our sport is great and races like the Transju’ are above all a great fete.”
In the womens’ division, France’s Anouk Faivre-Picon seems to be in a good position to succeed to last year’s winner Aurélie Dabudyk. She will have to beware of Swedish Maria Graefnings, 2017 winner, silver in 2018 and current Worldloppet leader, Swiss Sereina Boner and Tatjana Mannima from Estonia.
Behind the top athletes there will be over 2,000 skiers who will live the unique experience the Transju’ can offer, many of them focussing on getting to the finish line in Mouthe and being able to say “I’ve made it!” showing their finisher’s medal.
The the Transju’ welcomes Roxana Maracineanu, French Minister of Sports
The Transju’Marathon 48 FT, La Trans 25 FT and the Transju’Expérience, a 20 kilometres long rally to discover the beauty of nordic skiing without worrying about finishing times, will complete Sunday’s programme. A day that will also feature the presence of the Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu at the finish. Supporting “Skier pour Elles”, the association that promotes physical activity to fight cancer and its relapses, the Minister will also cover some of the 20 kilometres long Transju’Expérience.
La Transju’Classic – 56 km CT
MEN : 1. Antoine Auger, 2h45’26’’ ; 2. Thomas Joly, at 6’’ ; 3. Jean-Baptiste Viard-Gaudin, at 9’50’’.
WOMEN : 1. Marie Kromer, 3h20’08’’ (22nd scratch) ; 2. Laurie Flochon-Joly, at 7’58’’ ; 3. Lucille Germain, at 11’05’’.