RacingWorld CupBauer Wins Tour de Ski, Exciting Battle For Second

FasterSkier FasterSkierJanuary 7, 2008

Lukas Bauer (CZE) was never in doubt on his way to cross the line first on the Final Climb of the 2007-2008 Tour de Ski. The 30 year old extended his lead over second place by nearly another minute on the 10km stage up Alpes Cermis. Rene Sommerfeldt (GER) took second place in a dramatic finish with Georgia Di Centa (ITA), posting the fastest time of the day to catch and out-sprint the Italian in the last 100m

Bauer won five out of eight stages of the Tour, conceding only the two Sprint stages and the mass start Stage 7 in which he scored the most bonus seconds.

If there were two things to be certain of in the final stage they were that Bauer would win and that there would be a big fight for second place. Gjerdalen (NOR)started the day in second place, 1:50 behind Bauer. Piller Cottrer (ITA) started 2:24 back in third place, while Di Centa was 2:58 behind in 6th place and Sommerfeldt 3:33 back in 9th place. After the first 2.5km around the stadium tracks in Val di Fiemme the gaps were fairly similar, with Bauer gaining 5-10 seconds on most of the top 10. It was then time for a 4km relatively flat ski down to the base of the Alpes Cermis. Gjerdalen lost some time on this section while Piller Cottrer gained 12 seconds on Bauer, and as they started the climb the Italian was only 10-15m behind the Norwegian.

Bauer began the climb steadily, and increased his lead on most of the chasers. Piller Cottrer looked like he was going to catch Gjerdalen, but never quite made contact. Further down the hill Di Centa moved up into 4th place, with Norwegians Hetland, Svartedal, and Northug on his tail. The next group contained Sommerfeldt, Czechs Koukal and Jaks, Dementiev (RUS), and Goering (GER), with Teichmann (GER) just off the back. The space between Gjerdalen and Piller Cottrer started to widen, while behind them Di Centa has left his Norwegian pack and was bridging the gap to third place. Gjerdalen and Piller Cottrer were feeling the heat and threw off their hats, and Gjerdalen started single skating. Di Centa kept the pace up and in quick succession caught and passed first Piller Cottrer and then Gjerdalen and went alone into second place on the hill. At the 8.2km time check Bauer's lead was 2:48, meaning that Di Centa had caught 15 seconds since the start of the climb. Piller Cottrer was looking very tired, and Sommerfeldt was up to 6th place on the hill, 3:16 behind Bauer.

The crowd started to bunch closer to the side of the track like a mountain climb in the Tour de France. Bauer showed no signs of fatigue and kept grinding away. With 1km to go his lead was 2:50 over Di Centa, who was 10 seconds ahead of Gjerdalen. There was no sign of Piller Cottrer. Sommerfeldt was skiing solo, and moved up to 4th place past Hetland. Bauer had time to kill, and paused to grab a Czech flag as he hit the lanes to the finish. He fell to the ground after the line, seeming to laugh with jubilation rather than pant in exhaustion like the first women had. Behind the finish, the battle for second place could be seen unfolding down the slope. Sommerfeldt caught and passed Gjerdalen, but the man with the aviator glasses wasn't giving up. He dug deep and tried to hold on, but couldn't quite match the pace. 50 meters later Di Centa was suddenly within reach of Sommerfeldt, and the German went past just as they hit the finish lanes. But Di Centa wasn't giving up. He stuck on the back of Sommerfeldt, and summoning all his strength pulled into the next lane and made a dash for the line. Sommerfeldt held off the Italian by a meter. Gjerdalen was 6 seconds off the podium in 4th place, and Hetland finished well, taking 5th another 10 seconds back. Goering took 6th and a very tired Piller Cottrer 7th.

Source: FIS

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