Meraker, Norway. Monday’s final pursuit stage of the summer Tour de Trondelag was a battle between Norway and the Czech Republic where Norway prevailed in an exciting roller-ski sprint finish. Eldar Ronning sprinted to victory on his old stomping grounds in the small town of Meraker near the Swedish border in Jamtland county. Anders Aukland followed in second, but didn’t have a chance in the final stretch. Behind the two Norwegians were the two Czechs, U23 World Champion Martin Jaks and World Cup Overall Champion Lukas Bauer.
â€œI was of course especially motivated today,â€ said the winner, racing on courses in Meraker where he studied and trained for over seven years. Ronning started 24 seconds behind leader Lukas Bauer, who won the first stage, a 15K classic race on natural snow at only 800 meters above sea level!
Ronning took off from the start and caught the lead pack after only the first of four 3.5 laps.
â€œWe skied four laps and the second lap was really tough after having started hard to catch the lead group. But after that Bauer led and I could rest up for the last lap after working so hard in the beginning. The last lap was tough too though, Anders went for it on the climb in the last lap, and I followed, and then took him in the end,â€ said the winner who is in his first season with the all-around Norwegian National Team after several years on the sprint team.
â€œYea, I decided to train with the all-around team in preparation for next season. My big goal is gold in the 15K classic at the World Championships in Liberec.
Lukas Bauer took the win in perhaps the more exciting of the two stage event on Sunday. Natural snow still left over from a big winter accumulation was prepared for excellent classic skiing conditions in the 15K race. No one could answer Bauer when he moved into his extra gear in the mass start competition. Compatriot Martin Jaks followed in second, with Aukland, Ronning, and Estil not far behind.
A good showing of fans ascended the mountain to watch the race as well. The Tour de Trondelag’s great success this year promises the establishment of a new summer tradition in the historic ski village of Meraker.
â€œWhat an adventure to race here! I didn’t imagine there would be such great ski conditions and natural surrounding when I accepted the invitation to participate,â€ summed up reigning World Cup Champ Lukas Bauer.
The roller-ski event was a pursuit format based on the results of the 15km classic.
Virpi Kuitunen – the women's World Cup Champ, won the 9km classic race by 1:12 over Norweigan Marthe Kristoffersen. Biathlete Tora Berger was third. Kuitunen did not participate in the roll-ski race, and Kristoffersen cruised to victory.
Lukas Bauer on his way to winning the first stage on snow (Photo: Bjorn Fuldseth)