“GROUNDED”

Day 7 of the Red Bull X-Alps dawned with the news that race leader Christian Maurer had been served with a 24-hour time penalty.

During the night, the race committee ran a detailed analysis of Maurer’s track logs, which should that he had entered a forbidden zone near Locano airport by a few metres: enough to incur a penalty.

Yesterday, athletes rushed to close down the massive margin Maurer had built on Friday.

Toma Coconea (ROM) had taken the Piz Palu turnpoint and led the charge, with a squad of northern European athletes behind him: Gebert (GER), Van Schelven (NED), De Dordolot (BEL), Chambers (GBR2) and Makkonen (FIN).

However, pouring rain and low cloudbase hampered their efforts to fly, so they caught up the only way possible, slogging it out on foot.

On Friday, Maurer travelled over 213 km – nearly a quarter of the entire course distance. He launched at 3250 m from Monte Cevedale at dawn, and kept going until after 1900hrs, finally landing near Zermatt. Supporters around the world watched his every turn and move through Live Tracking.

This gave Maurer a 175 km lead by the time athletes awoke at 0400 this morning to launch their counter-attack.

Team SUI1 were relaxed about their penalty, though. “A 24 hour rest after such an exhausting last week could actually do us a lot of good”, said supporter Theurillat.

At present, Maurer maintains a 150 km lead. The race continues with 23 athletes still in the competition.

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