Charlotte Kalla (SWE) won the 2007-2008 Tour de Ski in spectacular fashion on the last stage today. The 20 year old Swede caught Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) a third of the way up the Alpes Cermis Final Climb, then made a decisive break with one kilometer to go. Arianna Follis (ITA) took third place, just ahead of Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) who skied the fastest women's time of the day to move up from 10th place to 4th.
The final stage was held in pursuit style in freestyle technique, with the overall Tour leader starting first and all other competitors starting behind according to their time behind in the overall standings. After a short lap of the Val di Fiemme stadium tracks, the course meandered down the valley to the base of the Final Climb. Two and half kilometers and 425 vertical meters up the Alpes Cermis later, the first athlete across the finish line would be the winner.
Kalla started conservatively, taking just a few seconds from Kuitunen's 40 second lead on the journey down to the base of the climb. Then Kalla could see Kuitunen up ahead of the climb and the pursuit really began. The gap closed steadily, and soon Kalla was on the tail of Kuitunen's skis. Kalla was then content to sit behind Kuitunen and to catch her breath for a while. Further down the hill Follis caught third placed Rotcheva, and behind them Shevhenko was out on a mission and steadily moving up through the field. Kuitunen at the front was single skating up the steep alpine run ahead of Kalla, and nearly all the top 10 skiers were closing on the leaders. Just before the 8.1km mark and 1km to the finish Kalla decided it was time to go. She accelerated quickly and Kuitunen had nothing to answer with. The gap increased rapidly just as the steepness of the slope relaxed a little, and Kalla was looking like a World Cup skier again instead of just a cross country skier slowly climbing an alpine run. Rotcheva and Follis passed the 8.1km timing point 30 seconds behind Kalla and 27 behind Kuitunen; Shevchenko in 5th place was 54 seconds behind.
Kalla kept her momentum going and the finish was soon in sight. Kuitunen was clearly struggling and her second place seemed in danger. On the flatter section of track Follis left Rotcheva and started to close on Kuitunen, and just in time as Shevchenko was soon on Rotcheva's back. Kalla hit the finish lanes alone but there was no energy to wave to the growing crowd. The effort of the climb was apparent as she crossed the finish line and collapsed onto the snow gasping for air. Kuitunen crossed the line 36 seconds later, and seemed happy to have held onto second place rather than disappointed to have lost first place. Follis was ecstatic to take third place 53 seconds behind Kalla. Shevchenko had the fastest time of the day, 58 seconds quicker than anyone else, but it wasn't quite enough to make the podium. Rotcheva was 5th, then there was a big gap down to Nystad (GER) in 6th, up from 8th at the start of the day. Kowalczyk (POL) was 7th and collapsed on the snow heavier than anyone; that is until Korosteleva (RUS) crossed the line later totally spent, having dropped from 6th to 23rd place on the last climb.