Val di Fiemme, Italy – Petra Majdic (SLO) won a tightly packed 10km mass start classic in the 7th stage of the 2010 Tour de Ski.
The short format led to thirty skiers finishing within 30 seconds. Eleven of the first 12 places were decided by the photo finish camera.
And at the end of it all, Majdic was atop the podium, 45 bonus seconds in hand, and the overall Tour lead. She outsprinted Elena Kolomina (KAZ) for the victory. Italian Marianna Longa was 3rd, edging Riikka Sarasoja (FIN).
Not much time in the overall was gained or lost based on today’s race times, but the bonus seconds had a major impact. Majdic now leads the overall by 31.4 seconds over Justyna Kowalczyk (POL). Kowalczyk entered the day in the lead, but a crash on the last lap, and her resulting 23rd place finish dropped her 15 seconds down. Add in the bonus seconds, and the Pole has her work cut out for her tomorrow.
Majdic raced on zero skis, and attacked early. She won both intermediate sprints, and didn’t let up until the camera confirmed her victory.
“In the finish I noticed that someone was coming close,” said Majdic. “It was Elena Kolomina. I said to myself that I will not lose the victory this time. It has happened to me in the past.”
Kowlaczyk spent most of the race right on Majdic’s tails, but she fell prey to the rough conditions. She is known as a poor downhill skier, and that cost her today.
Majdic played it safe on the descent. “In mass starts I am usually little bit afraid of donwnills. It was the case as well here. I skied carefully not to fall down.”
Italy Happy at Home
Longa’s 3rd moved her into 7th overall, and teammate Arianna Follis is 3rd, just 56.5 seconds off the lead. A strong skater, Follis could still move up. She was 5th today, just 2.4 seconds behind Majdic. With Magda Genuin 18th, Sabina Valbusa 28th, and Elisa Brocard 29th, Italy has an impressive five skiers in the top-30 overall.
Saarinen Loses Ground
Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), battling for the podium, lost ground today, finishing 28th. She is 1:35 back in the overall, and 40 seconds behind Follis.
Renner Moves Up
Sara Renner (CAN) had her best result of the 2010 Tour, taking 14th place in a photo finish. She moved up to 17th in the overall with the top-15 well within reach.
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.