At the beginning of April, the galacticos of ski mountaineering will descend on Arvier for a thrilling three-day event. Impossible, at least as far as the men are concerned, to predict the outcome. Now that 335 pairs of athletes from 19 different nations (32 of which are women’s teams) have confirmed their participation, it is time to release details of the 18th edition of Millet Tour du Rutor Extrême…
A return visit for Matteo Eydallin – Damiano Lenzi, and a first time for Anton Palzer. But the latest ‘breaking news’ is that this time the 2014 winners will be racing with different partners. Piedmont-born Eydallin is, in fact, registered to race with the European champion Michele Boscacci, while the overall winner of the last world cup will be trying his chances in the company of the sprinter from the Valtellina Robert Antonioli. The German champion is playing safe: he hopes to crown his dreams of glory by partnering the present leader of La Grande Course Mathéo Jacquemoud.
These names alone would be enough to make it into a great competition, but the Spectacle on the snows of Valgrisenche from 1 to 3 April promises to be one with a capital “S” , thanks to the presence of French athletes William Bon Mardion – Xavier Gachet, Didier Blanc – Alexis Sevennec, Leo Viret – Valentin Favre. Then we also have the Swiss Martin Anthamatten – Remi Bonnet, Yannik Ecoeur – Iwan Arnold, Marc Pinsac- Oriol Cardona from Spain and the Austrians Herrmann Jakob – Weißkopf Martin. Completing the highly competitive field of challengers for the final top ten, and well worth a mention, are the teams made up of Reichegger – Nadir Maguet, Filippo Beccari – Stefano Stradelli, Marti Werner – Pietro Lanfranchi and Denis Trento – Daniel Antonioli.
In the light of what we have just seen at the Altitoy Ternua and Pierra Menta, the first stages of La Grande Course 2016, it would seem that the super favourites are the French team, and leaders of the circuit, Laetitia Roux – Axelle Mollaret. But this, the most Extreme of Italian ski-mo races, might have a few surprises in store for them: 7000m of elevation gain over the 3 days and 75 km of real off-piste racing (40km uphill, 32km downhill, 5km high mountain crests) mean that nothing can be taken for granted, not even for two champions of their calibre. To make the women’s competition even more interesting, apart from the numbers (we have never had so many teams at the starting line in the whole of the TdR’s history), is the high standard of their adversaries. As well as the Swiss athletes Jennifer Fiechter – Severine Pont Combe and the Italians Katia Tomatis – Martina Valmassoi, glancing down the list of starters we see the Spanish Marta Riba – Marta Garcia Farres, the tenacious Italian duo Laura Chiara Besseghini – Elena Nicolini and the youngsters Lara Bonnel – Alba De Silvestro.
The world’s ski-mountaineering élite and ski-mo enthusiasts, the thrill of the high mountains, breathtaking scenery and impeccable organisation, such as that of the Sci Club Corrado Gex: these all combine to make an unmissable 18th edition. Tough, hard-fought races and three days of great sport: this is what Arvier – Valgrisenche have to offer. So all you have to do is to make sure you are free on the first weekend in April to follow this momentous competition live. Those who can’t make it can always catch up by watching the “Processo alla Tappa (the Stage on Trial)” in the late afternoon. Another great novelty of 2016, streamed live on the event’s official website, just like the Giro d’Italia.