As the blue cable car glided up the slope, giving spectacular views over Andalo in the valley below, including the competition areas of Stages 2 and 3, you knew that Stage 4 of the 3rd edition of The 5 Days of Italy would be a steep but memorable one. The start was another 100m uphill and the sunlit views over the Dolomites only got better. The occasional gutsy mountain biker in comprehensive protective gear rocketed past or stood to observe the goings-on. The clouds barely covered the very tops and later gave just a sprinkle of rain to cool off those still luxuriating at the arena post-run.
Event Speaker Stefano Galletti was the first into the finish, having pre-run the men’s elite course. Puffing into the microphone, he admitted that the course was steep and the forest rough, although once he caught his breath, he added that it had been a very enjoyable experience. The M21E course was then won in style by Swiss Florian Schneider, who simply destroyed the competition coming in 7 minutes ahead of fellow Swiss Siro Corsi and Lukas Diener. With all days to count, Silvan Ullman’s mispunch puts him out of the running on the overall scores. On the women’s Elite, it was Denmark’s Caroline Gjotterup ahead of Johanka Simkova CZE and Annick Meister SUI, who pulled herself up from 6th place at the spectator control to 3rd at the finish.
The courses again gave us an astonishing variety within a short distance, once more from planner Marco Bezzi, kicking off by appearing deceptively simple, sending competitors down a stony path with controls not far into the terrain but hidden in pockets of contours. Courses had orienteers delving into complex rocky jungle, navigating spur/gully sections, contouring across forested slopes and flying across the grassy ski-slopes which served both as the location for a spectator control and the final control.
The final day takes competitors back to the location of the first day’s sprint in Fai della Paganella, but this time for a “middle-long” distance planned by Stefano Raus, and the prize-giving ceremony by the Event centre following the racing at 1400.