Axel Teichmann (GER) won the 15km Individual Start Classic Race in Nove Mesto. The tall German edged out Norweigan Martin Johnsrud Sundby by 5 seconds on the five lap, three kilometer course. Nikolay Chebotko (KAZ) took third, his first-ever World Cup podium result.
Teichmann skied hi typical race, starting slowly and accelerating as the kilometers passed. At the first checkpoint at 3.4km, he was back in 27th. By the halfway mark he was 12th, and with 1.6km to go, he had taken over the lead.
As usual, the field was tight, with the top-25 all within one minute of the lead.
Teichmann climbed back to third overall, just 16.5 seconds behind leader Dario Cologna (SUI). “I felt very comfortable today and I am very happy with this victory. I am looking forward for tomorrow’s sprint race, my goal for the sprint is to reach the finals to get some bonus seconds for the overall lead in Tour de Ski.”
Sprint bonus seconds are playing a significant role in the overall standings, though 4 skiers are in the top 12 having scored no bonus seconds thus far, the first being Johnsrud Sundby in 5th. Teichmann claimed 15 bonus seconds in the prologue.
Cologna finished 15th today, .9 seconds ahead of Vassili Rotchev (RUS). Rotchev sits in second overall, just.2 seconds ahead of Teichmann and 16.3 behind Cologna.
With the top 10 all within one minute of the lead, the standings could still change significantly. An early exit in the sprint for one of the leaders could shake things up considerably.
Devon Kershaw (CAN) continued his strong Tour, bouncing back from a crash in the Prague sprint to finish 14th, +28.6. His result moved him up to 8th overall.
“Today was nothing dynamite but my body feels good and my energy is still there,” said the 26-year-old Kershaw. “It is so tight out there and nobody is giving an inch. Everyone is in great shape. My goal is to ski great and finish this event and so far so good.”
“I’m in uncharted waters now and I have set a record for myself in this competition,” continued Kershaw, who has not made it past the first three stages in both of his first two attempts at the Tour de Ski. “It is really important for me to not get too far ahead of myself. I just need to stay relaxed and I’m looking forward to racing tomorrow.”
George Grey (CAN) fell hard early on, and never recovered, finishing 49th and dropping him out of contention for a top spot. Grey had been skiing extremely well and was sitting just outside the top-30.
“It was a bad day for me because I had the biggest crash of my career and it blew my mental game early,” said Grey, who now sits in 42nd overall. “I am pretty much out of the overall Tour now, but will keep trying to have some strong individual days.”
Ivan Babikov (CAN) was 25th, +57.5 and is in 32nd overall. Babikov has a shot at cracking the top-30, but he will need ot overcome his lack of sprinting speed and post strong results in the final distance races.
Petter Northug (NOR), an early favorite, finished 28th and slipped to 10th place. He has not been skiing well classic, and a comeback is unlikely. Defending champion Lukas Bauer (CZE) was 5th in front of the home corwd and is now 9th overall. Like Babikov, Bauer is not much of a sprinter, and it will be difficult for him to reach the podium overall.
Racing continues tomorrow with the final sprint event of the Tour.
You can watch today’s distance race on Universal Sports right now!
Men’s 15k from Nove Mesto CZE
All other Tour de Ski events are also available on-demand: