What a perfect winter day today in Obertilliach, Austria, at the Dolomitenlauf! Beside sunshine, winterlandscapes and hundrets of Worldloppet skiing enthusiasts we saw a punch of amazingly strong marathon skiers fighting for the victory in the FIS Worldloppet Cup stage 2. In the end Sweden and Switzerland raise up their hands!
At 10:00 in the morning of th 20th January the starting shot gave the signal for the hundrets of cross-country skiing enthusiasts to kick-off the 45th Dolomitenlauf. In front of all, the FIS Worldloppet Cup elite skiers. The conditions have been great with sunshine, blue sky and subzero degrees.It has been the 2nd stage of the cup, the first in skating technique. In the end we saw a Swiss comeback in the men's competition and a unbeatable Swedish dominator in the ladie's race.
Toni Livers celebrates comeback victory in the FIS Worldloppet Cup
As the previous years, French skiers were the strongest nation in numbers at Austria's Dolomitenlauf. More than 10 elite skiers from France were standing in the first starting line of the 2nd FIS Worldloppet Cup stage this morning. The condidtions were very fast, so the elite kept a very high pace from the biginning on. So already on the first kilometres a small leading group was formed and contrary to many other competitions before this leading pack only consisted out of 5 skiers. Toni Livers (SUI), who is coming back to the FIS Worldloppet Cup after skiing Worldcup races, packed up with 4 French pro-skiers: Adrien Mougel, last year's Dolomitenlauf winner, Bastien Poirrier, who was skiing in the red bib, Agnelle Gerard & Loic Guigonnet.
The Swiss national team skier & FIS Worldloppet Cup winner 2017, Livers, tried to wear down the French connection as lonewolve and started attack by attack. On the final uphill part a few kilometers before the finish line he was successful and managed to create a gap of a minute between him and the French. Souvereign he brought this advantage into the finish an he won the Dolomitenlauf 2019, his second victory here.
1:08 minutes behind him the team mates from Skiteam e-liberty, Agenlle Gerard & Loic Guigonnet sprinted for the second place. Gerard managed to bring is toe over the finish line before Guigonnet. Adrien Mougel, Thomas Chambellant & Damien Tarantola (all French) complete the top-6.
"It was very hard for me today against this very strong French team, I was all alone out there against them. So I constantly tried to wear them down with an attack after another. On the last uphill I finally managed to break away!", says the winner, Toni Livers also mentioning, that beside skiing the World Championships in Austria, he is going to try to ski as many FIS Worldloppet Cup races as possible.
Maria Gräfnings with first victory at Dolomitenlauf
The ladie's competitions didn't bring a big surprise. It seems like Maria Gräfnings from Sweden, decided to take the red bib in the beginning of the season and never give it back. After her impressive victory at the Vasaloppet China two weeks ago, the SAS pro team skier, today also won the Dolomitenlauf. During the first kilometres Gräfnings found a punch of men to ski the race with. No other woman was able to follow her. In the next group, some minutes behind, her team mate, Tatjana Mannima (previous FIS Worldloppet Cup winner from Estonia) & Anna Seebacher, Austrian member of the Adidas XCS team also worked together with a group of male skiers. In the finish, Mannima was able to defeat Cup newcomer Seebacher and finished 2nd.
"Finally it worked out, finally I can add Austria to my list. I really wanted to win her, so I put many efforts in the preparations. I am super happy with my first victory at the Dolomitenlauf."