After his dominance in Arco and Bludenz, Eritrea’s Petro Mamu was the overwhelming favourite heading into the third WMRA World Cup race of 2017 in Willer-sur-Thur, and he did not disappoint.
When he crossed the finish line on the top of Vosges, the clock stopped just two seconds inside one hour. His winning time of 59:58 was some way off the 57:36 clocking with which he won here in 2014, but it was more than enough for a clear win.
With a dry course and favourable temperatures, conditions were ideal for running. After four kilometres of the 13.2km course with 1160m elevation gain that also includes 110 metres of descent, Mamu felt stronger than his closest opponents.
Julien Rancon of France was his closest challenger, while Italy’s Alex Baldaccini looked tired after the recent race in Arco.
Mamu went on to win by the comfortable margin of 93 seconds from Rancon. Baldaccini was a further 61 seconds in arrears.
After contesting this race for the fourth time, Mamu said that he liked the course because it’s not too challenging. With three clear victories, Mamu looks to have an unbeatable lead in the WMRA World Cup standings.
Alice Gaggi, the 2013 world mountain running champion and specialist for mixed courses, had a good day in Willer-sur-Thur. She covered the 9km course – which has 850m elevation gain and 110m of descent – in 50:38 to win by more than two minutes.
The three-way race for the two remaining podium places was incredibly tight. Gaggi’s fellow Italian Valentina Belotti took second place in 52:39 ahead of Czech duo Pavla Schorna and Kamila Gegorova, who clocked 52:41 and 52:42 respectively.
After her clear win in Arco, Belotti – who excels on courses steeper than this one – was already focused on the European Championships. Belotti and Gaggi now share the top spot in the WMRA World Cup standings.
The next stage of the World Cup will be the World Championships in Premana, Italy, at the end of July.
Tomo Sarf (WMRA) for the IAAF
Montée Grand-Ballon, mountain race world cup. Under the big heat, Petro Mamu and Alice Gaggi won.