Today is the first to two very deserved rest days for the athletes. With the sprint portion of the Tour done for another year, more and more athletes will be dropping out, particularly sprint specialists. One the men’s side, the most notables to leave the Tour will be leader Emil Jönsson, stage 3 winner Eldar Rønning, the the two top Russians Legkov and Vylegzhanin. For Rønning, he needs to train and focus on the Otepää sprints as he has yet to punch his ticket to the Olympics with the Norwegian team. Like Rønning, Jönsson dropped out of the Tour with the greater of the Olympics, though it was a difficult decision for him because of the phenomenal racing he had done. He had to follow through with his plan that he set out for beforehand. According to langd.se, the drop out of the Russian’s is very suspicious as Legkov was sick in Prague already but Vylegzhanin didn’t know anything about his sickness until the morning when he was told so. Langd.se believes it is due to high hematocrit levels, which Vylegzhanin has flirted with already this year in Davos.
On the women’s side it’ll be Evi Sachenbacker-Stehle and Therese Johaug simply because of poor performances. The German will be joined by Herman and Fessel, remember Gössner, Böhler, Nystad and Henkel have already been German’s who have dropped the Tour. The only German female athlete left is Katrin Zeller while the others will most likely have a difficult training camp in preparation of the Olympics. Also, Celine Brun-Lie’s run came to an end after a great result in the Prague sprint and will go home to train for Otepää while Natalia Korosteleva is following her preparations for the Olympics and has headed home to train as well.
Tomorrow sees the start of the second half of the Tour. The women will be doing a 15km point A to point B freestyle race while the men will be doing double that distance. The course profile appears to be the easiest race ever put on the World Cup circuit for the women. According to it, the course elevation drops constantly over the first 12.5km (a total of 200m) with a couple climbs in the last 2.5km. Comparing that to the men’s profile, it appears that the women get the easy part of the men’s course. The first 16km of the men’s course is almost a consistent climb that gains a total of almost 300m. A good warm-up for the Alpe Cermis I guess. Predictions:
1. Petra Madjic
2. Justyna Kowalczyk
3. Kristin Størmer Steira
1. Dario Cologna
2. Marcus Hellner
3. Matti Heikkinen
Also, today marks the first birthday of Nordic Xplained. I started off this blog last year as a means to put my opinions about races and racers on something physical. After failing to find a forum (in english) where I could discuss topics about the World Cup, I decided that this was the best option. At first, I was only getting a handful of visitors the first couple months, but now it’s gotten much bigger and it’s all because of you, the readers. Personally, I’m actually quite surprised how many people are actually interested in what I have to say. Over the past week, the blog has been getting in between 150-300 readers a day!
I know that there was a huge break from the end of last season to the Rogla races, but I’ve gotten my act together and hope to be more dedicated to the site. If I won’t be blogging, I’ll make someone else will and you’ll see this start when the World Cup comes to Canada and the Olympics begin at the start of February (On that note, if you are interested in writing for this blog, just contact me via e-mail:)). I just want to say thanks for tuning in and hopefully this blog is filling a niche for you readers in this thing we call the internet.