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Valtellina Wine Trail 2018: Cristian Minoggio & Elisa Desco win the 6th edition

No one at the year’s premier end-of-season race was going to let a little bit of rain ruin their day. Not least Elisa Desco and Cristian Minoggio, who took home the wins in the 42 km, nor the 21 km winners Elisa Sortini and Luca Cagnati, or Dionigi Gianola and Elisa Compagnoni in morning's notably drier 12km Sassella Trail.  For the province’s biggest and most international race, the statistics speak for themselves with 2,500 athletes from 28 different nations taking part. The Valtellina Wine Trail also welcomed a new main sponsor for 2018 in the form of the industry-leading Bresaola IGP producer, Rigamonti, while the city of Sondrio came out in force for the evening’s grand party in Piazza Garibaldi.

The 2018 edition wasn’t just markedly different with its afternoon start times and subsequent post-sunset finish in Sondrio, this year also marked the return of Elisa Desco and the inaugural appearance of Cristian Minoggio, two athletes from the region of Piedmont who both cinched victory in the Valtellina Wine Trail 42km. Spectators lined the course and filled Piazza Garibaldi in Sondrio to welcome the participants of the sixth edition of this now-classic race, which offered the distances of 12 km, 21 km and 42 km. The illuminated ribbon of head torches weaving through the vines will have left indelible memories in the minds of everyone who observed this sight or partook in the race – and for those that didn’t, you’ll have to wait until 2019 to enjoy the sunset in the same jubilant manner.

Danilo Brambilla set a fierce pace in the 42 km that many struggled to follow, as the athletes wound their way from Tirano to Sondrio. However, there was one ambitious competitor who kept Brambilla in his sights: Cristian Minoggio. As the best-performing Italian Skyrunner of this season, Valetudo’s Minoggio called upon his endurance and experience to run an intelligent race, winning in 3h16’40”. Andreas Reiterer finished second in 3h22’50” ahead of Brambilla in 3h28’37”, who had to concede another spot in the final kilometres. Alessio Rigamonti and Matteo Longhi finished in fourth and fifth respectively.

The women’s race played out as predicted with the victory going to Elisa Desco. A previous winner in 2016, the Bormio-based athlete ran a determined race from the outset, finishing in 3h48’42”. Teammate Sarah Palfrader, a former mountain biker, finished in second to ensure that Atletica Alta Vatellina were well represented on the podium. A fine third place went to the inexhaustible Guiliana Arrigoni in 4h43’05”.

 

The favorites take the top steps on the Half Marathon podium: Luca Cagnati & Elisa Sortini

The forecasted rain kindly held off for the start of 21km in Chiuro at 2pm and wasn’t unleashed until the top athletes were being welcomed into the finish zone at Piazza Garibaldi, Sondrio. While the race leaders managed to avoid the droplets of rain, further back in the field it was increasingly unavoidable, which naturally rendered the Half Marathon even tougher and more epic, creating even better tales to tell around the dinner table. 1,180 individual stories to be recounted, a whole lot of ever-lasting memories, and a great sense of achievement for the most popular race of this iconic event.

As predicted, race favorite Luca Cagnati made a determined effort from the gun, immediately establishing a gap ahead of the rest of the field. Local athlete Elisa Sortini played a similar card in the women’s race, making her intentions clear: after winning the marathon distance in 2016, Sortini aimed to write her name in the 21 km history books too.

Despite Cagnati’s early efforts catching up with him in the latter part of the race as he lost ground to the chasers, he succeeded in keeping his track record unblemished at the Valtellina Wine Trail with no fewer than 4 wins for the Valli Bergamasche Leffe athlete since the race began. Cagnati finished in 1h30’23”, with a trio of strong athletes hot on his heels. Filippo Bianchi (Libertas Valsabbia) managed to clinch second place, just 3 seconds down on Cagnati, and mere steps ahead of Massimiliano Zanaboni (Valli Bergamasche Leffe) and Eros Raedelli in fourth. Local athlete Mirko Bertolini finished strongly in fifth.

Italian national mountain runner Elisa Sortini rounded off her comeback season with another superb performance, winning the 21 km in 1h41’08”. She was joined on the podium by Mery Ellen Herman (Santi Nuova Olonio) in 1h52’59” and Bormio’s Sara De Lorenzi in 1hr59’07”. Fourth and fifth went to Monia Acquistapace and Jessica Tieni.

Dionigi Gianola & Elisa Compagnoni claim victory in the Sassella Trail:

Valtellina Wine Trail isn’t just about the long distance events, and the sixth edition kicked off with 700 participants taking on the 12 km Sassella Trail. A hefty appetizer for the bigger races, this beautiful route traverses the steep slopes of the Sassella wine producing area, skirting through rows of vines from Castione Andevenno to Sondrio, Valtellina’s capital.

Packing just as much beauty and climbing into its shorter distance, the Sassella Trail was won by Dionigi Gionola from Premana and Elisa Compagnoni from Valfurva, a valley at the top end of Valtellina. While the men’s field was hotly contested and Gianola’s lead was never quite certain, Elisa Compagnoni had such a convincing margin that she was able to soar through the route’s five wine cantinas in relative solitude. The wine producers along the route included Boffalora-Terrazzi Alti, Menegola, Alfio Mozzi, Piatta, and the Sassi Solivi Cooperativa agricola di Triasso.

Gianola crossed the finish line in Piazza Garibali in 57’00”, closely followed by Christian Lucchini (Atletica Alta Valtellina) in 57’27” and Mattia Sottocornola {Atletica Lecco Costruzioni) in 57’37”. Special mentions go to fourth and fifth placed finishers Diego Rossi and Luca Malgarida for their strong performances too.

The women’s field was dominated by Elisa Compagnoni (Atletica Alta Valtellina), who stopped the clock at 1h04’06”, ahead of Elena Peracca (Atletica Centro Lario) in 1h15’00” and Gaia Sanzogni (Corrintime) in 1h15’51”. The top five was rounded off with Alessandra Valgoi and Cinzia Salvadori.