Stage 7A – Bessans – Bonneval-sur-Arc – Val Cenis Polar Base presented by Francodex

Cold, snow and sunshine between Bessans and the Col du Mont Cenis!

Ideal conditions for a mythical stage of this unique race, the competitors of La Grande Odyssée VVF took the start of the first part of the 7th stage presented by Francodex, given in mass start in the superb Nordic area of Bessans. It was one of the highlights of the race, which took place in a beautiful cold atmosphere under a sparkling sun. At the end of a 47 km trail, with 1170 m of positive altitude difference, Spaniard Iker Ozkoidi crossed the finish line in the lead, on the Col du Mont Cenis, at an altitude of 2083 m, at an average speed of 22 kph. He was hot on the heels of event leader Hans Lindahl of Norway, who kept the leader’s chasuble sponsored by Crédit Mutuel. Young Frenchwoman Cindy Duport rounded off the day’s podium, edging out her rival Elsa Borgey. In the overall standings, however, Borgey maintained her 3rd place.

In the Nordic category, Jean Combazard, who “loves this stage and my dogs were so happy to go”, made no concessions to his direct rival Philippe Desmurger. He crossed the line at Mont-Cenis in 2h22’41”, thus regaining the Nordic leader position sponsored by Crédit Mutuel.

For the 2nd day of the Allianz Trophy, Italian Lisa Bonato crossed the Col du Mont Cenis in first place and took the Trophy leader’s mantle.
The demanding route took the carriages through the valley to the remarkable village of Bonneval-sur-Arc, which they passed through at good speed to the cheers of a large crowd. They then tackled the steep ascent to the isolated village of l’Ecot, before descending to La Bessannaise and then Les Essarts in Val Cenis on the way to the pass. A long uphill pull awaited them by headlamp light and under the stars, all the way to the pass where they bivouacked for the night. Whether nesting in straw, sleeping in a tent with their musher or sleeping in a tent with their dogs, facilities varied from one team to the next, but all the dogs were happy to curl up in a ball for a well-deserved rest after a hearty snack, before tackling the 2nd part of this beautiful Haute-Maurienne-Vanoise stage on Sunday.

In the early afternoon, 12 young mushers from all over France, organized by the French Sled Sports Federation’s youth section, put themselves in the shoes of professional mushers. Lyloo, 11, who arrived the day before from Lille, took part in her first race on snow. “It was so great,” she recalls with a broad smile. For these young enthusiasts, such as Emilie, 15, who arrived with her dogs (unaccustomed to snow…) the day before from the Somme, it was a life-size initiation to this type of event. They set off under real race conditions, one group with two dogs and the other with 4. The young sportswomen dominated both categories, Alicia Devos completing the 5.5 km in 22’17 while Elena Barachin covered the 11 km in 31’47”.

See you tomorrow at Val Cenis in Haute-Maurienne-Vanoise for the end of the stage around Lake Mont Cenis.