In exactly nine days, the fourth edition of the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear will get underway. For the first time this exciting race series will start on New Year’s Day in Oberhof, Germany. This season, the three Oberhof Stages will be followed by a sprint in Prague. After a rest day the Tour will continue with another premiere, an A to B race from Cortina to Toblach with a 17 km handicap start for the ladies and a 35 km for the men. The men will start in the center of Cortina, the ladies at Lago di Landro. After a classical distance race in the new Nordic arena in Toblach the finals of the Tour de Ski will be carried out in Val di Fiemme, including the now legendary Final Climb onto Alpe Cermis on Sunday, 10th January 2010.
The 2009/2010 Tour also represents a return of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup to Toblach after a break of six years. Toblach has previously hosted the World Cup in 1986, 1993, 1998 and 2003. In 1993 local heroine Manuela Di Centa captured her first World Cup victory and went onto win the overall World Cup in the 1995/1996 season.
Some 120 athletes from 23 nations have registered their participation for this year’s edition of the Tour de Ski – a new record in its history. Beside many traditional Cross-Country nations such as all the Nordic and Central European countries, the United States with Andrew Newell will be at the start for the first time. Given that the early season’s World Cups have seen six different winners for both genders, last year’s champions Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) and Dario Cologna (SUI) can expect to be challenged by many new and old names, including the current World Cup leader Petter Northug of Norway who had a victorious weekend at the first time World Cup venue of Rogla (SLO). Marit Bjoergen, the ladies standings leader, has decided to skip the Tour de Ski despite earning two podiums in Rogla. For more details, visit www.tour-de-ski.com