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Leader Macaire Under Pressure But Staying Solid

Published on 02/09/2020

Xavier Macaire may have led Stage 1 of La Solitaire du Figaro since the very early hours of the first morning but at around 24 hours to the finish on the Baie de Saint Brieuc the solo skipper of Groupe SNEF has a fight on his hands as seeks to record a first stage win of a career which spans nine previous La Solitaires and includes two overall podiums.

Less than two miles behind him, racing in fast gennaker reaching conditions, Macaire has Armel Le Cléac’h, Frédéric Duthil and Alexis Loison all less than two nautical miles behind him.

After passing the midpoint of the 642 miles stage, the Fastnet, from 1830hrs local time last night, the leading pack are averaging more than nine knots racing in a steady south-westerly wind of around fifteen knots, reaching towards the Isles of Scilly. The pack was led by in the south-west of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) who was a mile from Xavier Macaire at daybreak. The double winner of La Solitaire du Figaro (2003 and 2010) sails in close contact with the skipper who has been with him since the first evening of the stage, Frédéric Duthil (Technique Voile-Cabinet Bourhis Generali) who is doubly motivated, perhaps, to achieve a good result finishing back into the bay of he grew up on, Saint-Brieuc.

Ireland’s Tom Dolan (Smurfit Kappa) has slipped from second yesterday afternoon to eighth this morning but is just 4.5 miles, or just over half an hour, behind leader Macaire. This early in the four stage race which is contested on aggregate, elapsed time the objective is much more about finishing as close to the leader in terms of time, a top ten would be a bonus. But on just his third attempt at La Solitaire Dolan is going well.

Alexis Loison (Région Normandie) had moved up to third, and is looking for a second stage victory since his first in 2014 (Deauville-Plymouth). He had moved clear of those he was with close to at the Fastnet, in the order Tom Laperche (Bretagne CMB Espoir), Corentin Douguet (NF Habitat) and Fabien Delahaye (Laboratoires Gilbert).

Among these first seven, only the leader Xavier Macaire and the young (23) Tom Laperche, who is competing in his second Solitaire du Figaro, have not yet won a stage.

Britain’s Sam Goodchild is in 11th 5.9 miles behind the leader, engaged in a close race with Tanguy Le Turquais (Groupe Quéguiner-Innoveo), while the top fifteen - including two rookies, Nils Palmieri (TeamWork) and Elodie Bonafous (Bretagne CMB Océane), 8th and 12th at 6.30am – are all less than 10 miles, or about an hour from the leader. The stage will be close fought to the finish line at Saint-Quay-Portrieux on Thursday early morning (the latest routings give a finish around 5-6am). The winds seem set to stay until close to the finish but remaining stronger further west and so further compressing the fleet.

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