The Tour de Barents mini-tour continued with a 10/15km freestyle mass start in the Finnish town of Inari. Petra Majdic (SLO) broke away with Kristin Stoermer Steira (NOR) entering the last of four 2.5 kilometer laps.
Steira was unable to respond to Majdic’s subsequent attack, and the tall Slovenian, in the process of wrapping up her final season, skied away to a 30 second victory.
Bouyed by her strong performance and the accompanying 24 bonus seconds, Majdic now is comfortably leading the overall standings, 58 seconds up on Kerttu Niskanen (FIN).
Niskanen placed fourth today, just over three seconds down on Steira, who came back to the pack after losing Majdic. Finnish biathlete Mari Laukkanen was third, edging Niskanen at the line.
Krista Lahteenmaki (FIN) placed sixth, at the back of the chase pack of five, but still holds third in the overall, a mere three seconds ahead of Alena Prochazkova (SVK).
In the men’s race, the French continue to to lead the way. Jean Marc Gaillard, second to teammate Maurice Manificat in the opening stage, used a strong attack on the final climb to pull away from a strong pack.
Matti Heikkinen (FIN) took second, 9.6 seconds down, barely edging Slovak Martin Bajcicak and Czech Lukas Bauer at the line.
Gaillard jumped over Manificat in the overall standings, and now holds a 17.4 second lead on his teammate. Manificat was fifth today, 11.3 seconds back.
Defneding champion Sami Jauhojärvi skied most of the race with the lead pack, but faded at the end and finished ninth.
Heikkinen is third in the overall less than three second behind Manificat entering the off day. Racing continues on Saturday with a classic sprint.