The selection tests for the World Cup ended for all the teams last weekend, and now we are in the true final stretch for the championship. Some teams have already announced their lineups, and the rest will do so in the coming days. Only 10 days left, and the 3rd leg of the series is coming today!
SLOPE LEG AT SVINNDAL VARDE (#3)
Longer legs on the Østfold terrain can be challenging and decisive in (especially) the long-distance race. Finding a good place to pass the lines of cliffs, avoiding the steepest areas of the slopes, and taking advantage of the paths that lead us to the control are the main elements to consider in our routechoice. However, it is often difficult to guess which will be the fastest option on this type of leg, and one of the biggest determining factors will undoubtedly be the ability to carry out what is planned and correctly choose the micro-routechoices that allow us a smooth, consistent, and fast progression.
In today’s leg, there are many “macro” and “micro” route choices. Choose yours!
ANALYSIS OF THE ROUTE-CHOICES
It is a fairly complex leg where it is difficult to determine a clearly winning option. It will depend to a large extent on the athlete’s physical-technical capabilities as well as on the efficient execution of the planned route.
In the following image, we can see highlighted in green the roads where the runnability will be very good and highlighted in red the impassable lines of cliffs that we must avoid. In yellow are marked the areas where they can be crossed (not without difficulty). We must also take into account the relief structure presented in the leg, especially the hill that is located in the medium section of the leg.
One of the main keys to succeeding in this type of terrain is to try to minimize the chances of getting stuck or slowed down in areas with poor runnability, so it is smart to avoid those areas in our planning.
We must also consider that we are facing a terrain that is generally slow and heavy, so often the options that use paths or high runnability elements play a special role. And last but not least, as we have already mentioned previously in this article, on this type of legs the differences between route choices are not too high (as they can be in other types of terrain), but rather one of the most determining factors is the ability to execute what is planned efficiently.
Although it would be impossible to analyze all the route choice options on this leg since they are practically infinite, especially if we do take into account all the micro choices, at least we can differentiate between the 5 main route choices:
- Straight route (1780m): As always the straight route option is the most offensive way to tackle this leg. In this option, we don’t have big obstacles under the red line, only two small lines of impassable cliffs in the first third and second third, but that can be avoided by moving slightly to the left (first) and to the right later. This option implies greater climbing since we must climb many contours (10+) on the medium hill. However, it is undoubtedly a very good option for powerful runners.
- Right route (1990m): This option offers a greater section running along the path, and less climbing by avoiding the middle hill on the right. In return, we run 12% more distance. It is a safe choice where you transit through areas of good runnability all the time and where the speed can be very high. It is probably a winning option.
- Left route (1850m): This option is actually a variant of the straight route that uses a larger section of path, but goes up to the top of the middle hill. It is an option but perhaps not among the best ones.
- Right route alternative (1930m): In this option we start the leg completely different from the rest of the options, running approximately 30 degrees to the right of the red line, saving some climbing and merging with the right route in the middle section. This option is slightly shorter and flatter (compared with the right route), but it is conditioned by a high risk of facing problems crossing the cliffs line, which can lead to a substantial loss of time. It can be a winning option, but it is risky.
- Left route alternative (1810m): This option is a variant of the left route where we run from the beginning furthest from the red line to converge on the midsection of the leg. There seems to be no reason to consider it as a better option.
Taking all of the above into account, the conclusions are in line with what has been described previously, being difficult to determine which of these options could be the winner. In my opinion, the right route is the safest and offers us the greatest chance of success. Straight is also a very good option (especially for the men’s class). And the right alternative route can be very good but it is risky. I don’t see both of the left routes as winner ones. I would advise the right route.
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