Arianna Follis (ITA) was a winner in everything today, qualifying 1st in the Women’s Freestyle Sprint in Prague and going on to win the event and take over the overall Tour de Ski lead.
Follis beat out Aino-Kais Saarien (FIN) and Petra Majdic (SLO) to win the 1.3km sprint. She onw holds an 8 second lead over Saarinen in the overall standings. Marit Bjoergen (NOR) won the B-Final to finish 7th. She is in third overall, well within striking distance of Follis, 13.1 seconds back. Majdic notched her seconds podium finish of the Tour and sits in 5th overall, just behind Justyna Kowalczyk (POL).
Kowalczyk turned in a storng 11th – she generally prefers classic and must stay close in the skate sprints to maintain contact with the leaders.
Said Follis follwoing the race, “I knew that I would have a good chance here in Prague. In the qualification I tried to start quick to take the lead. Later in the finals I changed tactic, there it was good to be little in behind in the beginning of the race. My goal is still the podium, and there is still one more sprint and that is good for me.”
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN), who led the Tour entering today’s sprint, qualified in 6th, but did not fare well in the heats, finishing 17th. She is now in 6th overall, +40 and is very much stillin the hunt.
The Finnish team currently boasts an impressive four women in the top-10 overall. In addition to Saarinen in 2nd and Kuitunen in 6th, Pirjo Muranen is 7th and Riita-Liisa Roponen 8th.
Canada’s Sara Renner maintained her 14th place overall ranking, finishing 23rd in today’s sprint. Renner qualified in 22nd.
“I am kind of disappointed because I made so many attempts to get by people but couldn’t get anywhere,” said the lone Canadian female representative. “I had the legs to fight today. I am looking forward to the day off and geting some rest.”
Marthe Kristoffersen, the Norweigan who crashed badly in the prologue, continued to climbin the standings, finishing 5th in the sprint, and moving up to 22nd overall. The Norweigans have 5 women in the top 22.
Tomorrow is a day off and racing continues on Wednesday with a 10km individual classic race.
Watch today’s sprint on Universal sports starting at 3:50PM EST.