Despite stiff competition, Team Papival completes the Raid Evolenard double. In the men’s category, last year’s winner, Martin Fanger, won the Raid Evolenard FMV for the second time after a fierce duel with Belgian champion Frans Claes, who finished second. Marc Stutzmann came third. In the women’s race, France’s Estelle Morel, runner-up at the European Championships, won ahead of Germany’s Bettina Janas, winner of the Swiss Epic, and Alexandra Zürcher.
Shortly after the start, a trio of favorites Martin Fanger, Frans Claes and Marc Stutzmann managed to break away and gradually increase their lead over the rest of the field. Whereas in the second loop, Stutzmann had to let his two rivals go on the climb to La Forclaz, Belgian champion Claes chose to pick up the pace in the final kilometers of the last climb to Béplan, and managed to open up a gap on Fanger at the highest point. The Belgian champion was determined to beat the course record set by Johann Tschopp in 2015: 3h10’20”.
But Martin Fanger was not to be counted out. Thanks to a more direct line choice and increased risk-taking on the final descent, Fanger managed to catch up and overtake Claes to win the Raid Evolenard FMV for the second time. However, he missed the course record by one minute. “Frans was very strong today and even managed to pull slightly ahead of me on the climb. On the other hand, I had the fastest line on the downhill,” Fanger summed up. Claes was less happy: “I had great legs and lost the race on the downhill. I’m a bit upset about that”. Marc Stutzmann lacked strength on the second half of the course: “At first, I was feeling good. But then, for some inexplicable reason, I couldn’t keep up with my two companions. But I was still able to secure third place at the finish”, Stutzmann summed up.
In the women’s race, Estelle Morel was the favorite. In place of Irina Lützelschwab, who withdrew, Bettina Janas kept pace with Morel for some time. At the first climax on L`Etoile, Morel was already alone in the lead with a 90-second advantage. By the finish line, the gap had grown to over six minutes. Morel was satisfied: “After the good result at the EC, I expected to win here”. For her part, Bettina Janas declared: “I certainly know the course, having ridden it before. But it’s still surprisingly hard every time – even though I like it when the climbs are steep and the descents technical. My ambition was to stay with Estelle as long as possible and then ride at my own pace. It worked out pretty well. Alexandra Zürcher was the third fastest woman to cross the finish line in the Evolene Arena.
Stéphane Chevrier, co-chairman of the organizing committee, also drew a positive conclusion: “With almost 650 participants over the weekend and a high level of participation on the marathon course, the race continues to gain in appeal. The Swiss championships coming up next year will enable us to build on this momentum. And the feedback from the public was also very positive, which makes us very happy”.