Alex Baldaccini and Camilla Magliano of Italy were the victors at the Stellina Partisan Memorial Mountain Running race, the fifth of seven WMRA World Cup races, held in the Italian town of Susa on Sunday (27).
Baldaccini won this race in 2015 but was faster this year, covering the course in 1:05:39, 34 seconds faster than two years ago.
Soon after the start at the Augusto di Susa Arch, Baldaccini was in the lead group which included Davide Magnini, European champion Xavier Chevrier, Francesco Puppi, Julien Rancon from France and Bernard Dematteis. About 20 minutes from the finish Baldaccini, along with Puppi, moved to the lead and forged on alone to the finish line. Behind them Chevrier and Magnini followed with Dematteis next.
In the last kilometer Baldaccini forged on but Puppi couldn't respond, giving Baldaccini a comfortable 14-second victory, duplicating their 1-2 finish from two years ago. Puppi clocked 1:05:53, 44 seconds faster than in 2015.
"I'm really happy," Baldaccini said. "It was a difficult season for me, especially in the early months. It was very good for me to have success in an important race like Stellina. I did a lot of work in the race. In the first kilometre I struggled to keep up with the leaders but then later (upon ascent) we were just a few and in the end we were only Francesco and me."
Magnini was third in 1:06:25 followed Chevrier (1:06:49), Hannes Perkmann (1:07:03) and Dematteis (1:07:45) to round out a top-six sweep for Italy.
Further back, Miran Cvet of Slovenia was seventh in 1:09:08, ahead of WMRA President Jonatan Wyatt, who won the Stellina race 13 times. He clocked 1:09:55.
The women's race was a battle between Magliano, a new entry into the top level of international mountain running, and Celine Iranzi from Rwanda. Italy's Alice Gaggi and Sarah Tunstall of Great Britain followed.
Magliano’s pace was very strong and she gradually separated from Iranzi. Magliano eventually reached the finish in 1:19:26, 59 seconds clear of Iranzi. Gaggi, the Italian champion, was third in 1:21:30 with Tunstall fourth in 1:22:58.
Further back, Samantha Galassi was fifth in 1:24:14.
"I am very happy and excited," Magliano said. "I wanted so much to take part in this competition because it’s the most important mountain race in my region, Piedmont. I knew it was a race for me because it’s only up; at the beginning I left the Iranzi because I knew the race was long and there was time to recover.
This edition of the race was the first without Adriano Aschieris, one of the founders of the event.
Tomo Sarf (WMRA) for the IAAF