Toblach, Italy – Arianna Follis (ITA) thrilled the home crowd, winning today’s 16km point-to-point freestyle pursuit, and taking over the 2010 Tour de Ski Lead.
Follis edged Petra Majdic (SLO) and Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), pulling away in the last 400 meters. The three women worked together early to reel in leader Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), who started 25 seconds ahead. They not only caught her, but were able to leave her behind. Saarinen finished 4th, and is still in the running, 27.6 seconds back.
2.5 kilometers from the finish Majdic made a move, and was able to open a small gap. But Follis countered on the last climb and pulled ahead for the win.
“I am very excited to win today,” said Follis. “This was a race I really wanted to win, but we will see what happens at the top of the Alpe Cermis.”
“We cooperated very well with Arianna,” said Majdic. “We wanted to ski as fast as possible to catch Aino Kaisa. I had a good overview of what was going on behind me. After the start I was afraid that Kristin Steira (NOR) would be fast and try to catch us but it did not happen. I had a few words with Arianna before the start in Cortina. We have known each other a long time and we did not have to discuss our tactics for long.
“I was feeling very strong like never before on the Tour,” Majdic continued. “Therefore I decided to attack after passing through the stadium. However, I started my attack one uphill too early and the other girls hung on. Arianna had more energy in the finish. I am very happy for her that she won on her home soil.”
Majdic is the Tour sprint leader.
At this point the overall Tour is down to the four women who faught for the top spot today. Marianna Longa (ITA) continued her strong Tour and is now in 5th, but she is two minutes back, and most likely out of the hunt.
Sarah Renner had a solid performance for Canada, moving up six spots to 23rd.
Italy had an excellent day on the home course. In addition to Follis and Longa, Magda Genuin moved up 16 places and is now 11th.
Steira, thought to be a threat for the overall, struggled and lost three palces and is now in 9th.
“Anything is possible. I have not given up, but it is a long shot,” she said.
“She was skiing in no man’s land and had to work against a group in front and a group behind. She lost more than I thought, “said Norweigan national team coach Egil Kristiansen.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.