Andy Newell (USA) has withdrawn from the Tour de Ski, a move that U.S. Ski Team coach Matt Whitcomb said was planned regardless of Newell’s performance.
“Andy has had a good tour,” Whitcomb said. “He hasn’t really caught a good break since the sprint.”
Newell placed ninth in the freestyle sprint and 21st in the first race of the Tour, a 4k skate prologue.
But he broke two poles in the 35km Cortina to Toblach pursuit on Thursday, ultimately skiing approximately eight combined kilometers with just one.
“I think it was shaping up to be a great skate race,” Whitcomb said of Newell’s pursuit.
In today’s prologue, Newell finished 44th.
“I think he felt good,” Whitcomb said. “I don’t think his skis were gliding super fast though.”
Whitcomb said the results in the pursuit and prologue did not impact the decision to withdraw.
Newell will now focus on preparing for the Liberec World Cup races which will be held on the 12th and 13th of January, the weekend after the Tour concludes.
Noah Hoffman and Kris Freeman finished 60th and 61st respectively for the U.S.
The short and gradual course did not favor Hoffman, so Whitcomb was not surprised at the result.
Hoffman generally thrives on big climbs — the harder the course the better.
Whitcomb sees better thing ahead on the challenging hills of Val di Fiemme in Saturday’s mass start, and then of course the Final Climb.
“Those will be right up Noah’s alley. He likes to dig into these climbs,” Whitcomb said.
Despite sub-par results, Whitcomb said Hoffman is “in really good shape,” and expects him to break out.
Freeman has struggled to find his top form during the Tour.
Whitcomb told FasterSkier that “Kris is definitely struggling with blood sugar issues…He is having a really tough time with his diabetes this week.”
He referred questions on specifics to Freeman, who was unavailable for comment.