Livigno, 02.09.2023 - Giulio, Giulio and Giulio again: three times Molinari on the roof of Icon, the toughest and most spectacular triathlon race in the world. The champion, for years now one of the most recognisable faces of the Livigno Team, won with a time of 13 hours, 11 minutes and 56 seconds, thus completing an extraordinary hat-trick, and adding this precious gem to the victories of 2019 and 2021. Three real jewels, to be set on the crown of Emperor Julius III, who among the paths, waters and passes surrounding Little Tibet can truly say he feels at home. They crumbled the resistance of the two Dutchmen, Pranger Annewillem and Verholt Oskar, authors of excellent performances, respectively second and third at the finish line.
A day-long adventure, capable of bringing men into direct contact with their physical and mental limits, thus restoring to the spectators the narrative power of a story to be passed on. A story that transcends the tale of the winners alone and instead celebrates the resilience and capacity to suffer of each of the participants, from the first to the last, rewarding their willingness to face the unknown in all its strength. A collective experience that helps to put into perspective the value of this race and of the hard work of all those who managed to complete it, as also expressed in the words of Molinari himself: "I think that the final ramp is the perfect summary of this route, with all its hardness and epicness. It was one of the toughest editions since I have taken part in ICON: and applause goes to all the finishers, because getting to the bottom today was really a feat". There were only 94 finishers out of the 260 athletes registered for the race, to echo the words of the winner. Among them, also Mateo Bormolini, from Livigno DOC: a further reason of pride for the inhabitants of the Piccolo Tibet.
For Molinari, it was a race conducted from the first to the last metre and made truly unforgettable by the generosity of a raw and uncontaminated nature that, in this 2023, wanted to surpass itself, offering all participants both a challenge to the limits of the human and a dream setting. Starting, precisely, from the first leg, the swimming leg, where the extremely cold temperatures, with the water below 13 degrees, much colder than in the past, forced the athletes to make an unprecedented effort. A hardness, however, balanced by a breathtaking stage, as Molinari himself recalled at the finish line: "The swimming fraction is the most spectacular of the race, you really feel the force of nature beating inside you, squeezing you. Today we were lucky enough to swim under a beautiful moon, it was the icing on the cake. On the other hand, it was a very demanding section, also because of the water temperature: the coldest since I have been competing. How to describe it? An unforgettable sunrise."
Emotions shared by the Swiss Nina Zoller, winner of the women's race and 17th in the general classification, who preceded the American Marni Sumbal and the Ukrainian Anastasiia Romanets at the finish line, for a podium of international calibre. For Nina, too, this triumph has the taste of a welcome déjà vu, after last year's success: "Winning ICON for the second time in a row is great. The final part was the hardest, I was at the end of my strength. But I must admit that the race course is spectacular, it really leaves you speechless."
And it is the course in its entirety and majesty that is the real, great, protagonist of this event, an event that thanks to its combination of technical difficulty and scenic beauty has become part of the prestigious XTRI World Tour circuit, which brings together the most extreme and spectacular triathlons in the world. Circuit that will also return to Livigno in 2024, on 6 September.
And for anyone who experienced yesterday's day, it is not at all difficult to understand the reasons behind it, between the epic start at dawn, the extraordinary view offered by the extremely hard Alpine passes and the hundreds of people present in the village to support the athletes along the running fraction. All crowned by a finish worthy of the fame it has built up over the years: the last kilometres of prohibitive gradient, up to the gates of the Carosello 3000. The perfect finale to a race without equal.