Tesfaye Abera is set to defend his crown at the 24th edition of the ‘Corrida Internationale de Langueux’, an IAAF Bronze Label Road, over 10km on Saturday afternoon (14).
Abera is aiming to become just the second man to win back-to-back titles in Langueux, after Kenya's George Morara in 2002-03, but just like 12 months ago, the race is expected to be very close.
Ethiopia’s 22-year-old Abera managed to win on that occasion thanks to a very fast last kilometre, setting a personal best of 28:21.
However, there are plenty of Kenyan eager for victory in Brittany after a draught since the last win by one of their compatriots in 2005, when Francis Komu took the honours.
This year, two of the Kenyans that challenged Abera in 2013 are back: Milton Kiplagat Rotich, who was second just two seconds in arrears, and Alfred Cherop, a 27:59 performer who placed fourth last year, were part of that thrilling finish in 2013.
Another Kenyan, Albert Matebor, a marathon specialist and author of an impressive 2:05:25 time in Frankfurt two years ago, is also on the start line.
Abera will be accompanied on his task by his fellow countrymen Muhajir Hiredin and Dawit Fikadu, and the latter is currently in shape with a 28:33 time over 10km last week in Melun.
The surprise could come from a trio of Moroccan runners as Jawad Laariss, with a personal best of 27:45, Samir Jouher and Hamed Beday could all challenge the East Africans.
The pacemaker Siraw Kebede has been asked to lead through the first half of the race in 13:30 – 13:35. This means that the race record of 27:46, set by Ethiopia’s Atsedu Tsegay, in 2011 is clearly a target.
In the women’s race, Fantu Eticha will not defend her title but there is still a strong Ethiopian presence.
Bekelech Daba, Sani Indiya Mohammed, who has run 32:15 this year, Tigist Bikila, the winner in Melun last week in 33:20, and 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships 3000m steeplechase silver medallist Gebremaryam Hiwot Gebrekidan.
The race record of 31:48, held by France's Christelle Dauney since 2012, might even be under threat but a number of slight slopes makes this race a technical and difficult one.
Angela Tanui, who has run 33:35 for the distance at high altitude in Eldoret, Leonidah Mosop, second in Langueux last year, and Eunice Mumba Kioko represent Kenyan interests.
The 10km race is a double-loop course around the centre of a Breton village usually attracting about 15,000 spectators.
The warm, dry and sunny weather might be the main difficulty for the runners on Saturday with temperature expected to be as high as 19 degrees the by late afternoon.
PJ Vazel for the IAAF