Dario Cologna (SUI) took over the lead of the FIS Tour de Ski with a strong performance in the 15km classic pursuit start in Oberhof, Germany. Devon Kershaw (CAN) moved up from 5th to 3rd, gaining his first World Cup podium finish in a distance race.
Axel Teichmann (GER) held a 13.2 second lead after the prologue, but Cologna moved up quickly, catching the tall German by before the 5 kilometer mark and was able to open up a small gap of 4.8 seconds by the finish.
“I had very good skis that were very important in the finish,” said Cologna. “I had better grip than Axel so I tried to beat him in the up hills.”
Added Teichmann, “I am happy with the result, and I am very satisfied with this weekend in Oberhof. We (Axel and Dario) tried to stay away from the crowd behind, and keep the big gap on the group. I
realized I had problems in the Brun uphill, and I had no chance to close Cologna’s gap in the down hills.”
Kershaw started in 5th place, 28.8 seconds behind Teichmann and near the front of a large pack of skiers – 21 athletes started within 10 seconds. Kershaw battled in the pack throughout the race and then beat out Finland’s Sami Jauhojaervi in a photo finish.
“I am super happy to get my way back onto the World Cup podium,” said Kershaw, who edged out Finland’s Sami Jauhojärvi in a photo finish during the second leg of the seven-race journey. “I knew with the final one kilometer it was a sprint race and I was surrounded by distance skiers so I played it smart and did exactly what I wanted to do. This is a huge accomplishment for me.”
The third-place finish marks the third trip to the World Cup podium for the 2006 Olympian, but first in a distance race. Kershaw finished second in a skate-sprint race in the opening day of the 2007 Tour de Ski, and also has a third-place finish in a skate-sprint race in 2006 following the Olympics in Sweden.
“To be able to podium in a distance race is so important to me especially given my age and experience,” said Kershaw, who is regularly near the top of the leader board with the world’s best athletes. “I am super relaxed and trust my shape so much more now. Success breeds success and I can trust myself a lot more.”
Jauhojaervi skied an impressive race as well, moving up form 29th to finish 4th.
Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR) skied the fastest time of the day, moving back into contact with the main pack. He stood in 49th after the prologue, and is now 14th only 3.4 seconds out of third.
Andrus Veerpalu (EST) and Toni Livers (SUI) posted the 2nd and 3rd fastest times, and like Johnsrud Sundby, moved up significantly – Veerpalu from 46th to 12th and Livers from 42nd to 11th.
Peter Northug (NOR), who started the day in third, slipped to 9th, but is only 2.5 seconds behind Kershaw. In fact, after the top two, the filed is so densley packed, that literally antyhing could still happen. 22 skiers sit within 10 seconds of third place, and 37 skiers are within a minute of third. This makes the bonus seconds available in the upcoming sprints extremely important. A strong sprint performance could allow one of the pack to quickly overtake Cologna at the front.
Canada’s George Grey who posted a career best 9th place finish in the prologue, slipped back to 34th today, though he is very much within striking distance of the top-30.
His teammate, Ivan Babikov, skied a strong race, moving up to 27th from 51st. babikov, however, has his work cut out for him. His weak sprinting will most likely undo his upward progress in the standings, though an overall top-30 finish is a possibility.
Two men abandoned the Tour, with Nejc Brodar (SLO) did not finish today’s pursuit, while Philipp Marschall (GER) did not start.
Racing continues tomorrow with a freestyle sprint in Prague, Czech Republic.
|7||14||1345875||GAILLARD Jean Marc||1980||FRA||43:33.5|
|8||23||1067291||DI CENTA Giorgio||1972||ITA||43:33.7|
|9||3||3420239||NORTHUG Petter jr.||1986||NOR||43:34.0|