Italy – Vincent Vittoz (FRA) was able to open up a gap on the field by the 7 kilometer mark – an unusual ocurrence in World Cup mass start races where a large pack usually leads the race until the final sprint. Vittoz, who has had an inconsistent season, posted his first victory of the season, winning by 18 seconds over overall World Cup champion, Lukas Bauer (CZE). Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) took third in the 20km classic race, +52.1.
The field continued to be relatively spread out.
Vittoz said “It was a great race for me today; I am in good shape and had perfect skis with good kick. I wasn't on the podium this season, only two times in fourth. I didn't compete in all the races, perhaps that's why I had maybe had energy left to take the lead. I will now try to recover fast and I hope I will take the victory tomorrow in this World Cup Final.”
Bauer was impressed with Vittoz. “I made a mistake in the first round; I didn't follow Vittoz and stayed behind. When I started to attack, the gap was already really big and Vincent had a great race. Today, Vincent was clearly stronger than I, he is the right winner.”
Devon Kershaw of Canada finished 20th, crossing the line at the back of a small pack of four skiers.
The World Cup Final concludes tomorrow with a pursuit start based on the times of the first two events. With all the intermediate sprint bonus points, 1:15 in total, Vittoz is in the lead with a total time of 58:48.8 minutes, 57.5 seconds ahead of Bauer. Gjerdalen is third, 1:42.6 behind Vittoz.