FIS Cross-Country Tour de Ski Stage 4 (Oberstdorf): 10/15 k freestyle pursuits
[UPDATED] Another win for Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov (that’s four in four stage races at the 2016/2017 Tour de Ski), another second place for Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby, and another third place for Canada’s Alex Harvey.
That was how the podium shook out on Wednesday in the Stage 4 men’s 15-kilometer freestyle pursuit, with Ustiugov winning by 37.2 seconds after starting 30 seconds ahead of Sundby, and the Norwegian skiing alone throughout the six-lap race as well, despite seeing Ustiugov ahead of him for most of it.
Harvey ended up 1:08.8 seconds back in third after starting 1:09 back in that position, but he had to shake Switzerland’s Dario Cologna in order to keep himself on the podium.
Cologna started 1:26 back and caught Harvey on the second lap. The two skied together for the rest of the race, with Cologna leading for most of it.
On the final lap, Cologna led into the final descent down toward the stadium, where Harvey “pulled a Nilsson”, repeating the winning tactics from the previous women’s race (see below), and used the slingshot-draft tactic to surge past Cologna on the last little climb over a bridge before the finish. Harvey skated ahead of Cologna and led into the finishing straight, where he edged the Swiss skier by 0.8 seconds.
Cologna ended up 1:09.6 back in fourth, while Finland’s Matti Heikkinen led Sweden’s Marcus Hellner and Norway’s Didrik Tønseth across the line in fifth (+1:45). (Hellner edged Tønseth in a photo finish for sixth, +1:47.6).
Ustiugov gained a few seconds in his overall lead, now 42.2 seconds ahead of Sundby in second. Harvey is 1:18.8 back in third and Cologna 1:24.6 behind in fourth. Heikkinen is another 35 seconds back in fifth overall, with Hellner and Tønseth just 2.6 seconds behind him in sixth and seventh, respectively. Fewer than 7 seconds behind Tønseth are Norway’s Simen Hegstad Krüger in eighth and France’s Maurice Manificat in ninth overall.
Canada’s Devon Kershaw started 20th and ended up 21st (+4:20.2), which puts him 4:35.2 behind overall. Graeme Killick improved to 43rd (+8:01.4) after starting 46th, and is currently 8:16.4 back overall. Len Valjas did not start.
Noah Hoffman led two U.S. men in the Tour in 37th (+6:49) after starting in that position, and is even with Germany’s Valentin Mättig at 7:04 back overall. American Erik Bjornsen placed 46th (+8:39.0) after starting 50th, and is 8:54 back overall.
On the women’s side, the top Norwegians have been complaining about the course, but for Sweden’s Stina Nilsson, it’s been all about tactics in the most crucial final meters of the last two races with her second-straight win on Wednesday.
Despite starting first, Nilsson hung in third for much of the women’s 10 k freestyle pursuit at Stage 4 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
With Norway’s Heidi Weng starting 4 seconds back and catching Nilsson early, and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (who started 12 seconds back) forming a three-woman lead pack by 2.5 k, the three skied together for the rest of the four-lap race. Notably, Nilsson hung at the back while Weng and Østberg set the pace.
Then, on the final roller climb over a bridge, Nilsson made her move, powering past both Norwegians and leading them by several strides into the finish. A day after notching her first distance win, Nilsson won her first 10 k pursuit in 27:42.7 by 1.7 seconds over Weng in second and 1.8 ahead of Østberg in third.
With the victory, Nilsson’s third in four stages, the Swede retains first in the overall standings by 6.7 seconds with three stages to go. Weng is still second and Østberg third (+11.8).
Finland’s Krista Parmakoski hung onto her fourth-place in the overall standings with a fourth place on Wednesday, 42.4 seconds behind Nilsson. She started 39 seconds back and is now 57.4 seconds out of first overall.
American Jessie Diggins held onto fifth overall as well, skiing alone throughout the race for fifth (+1:47.5) at the finish. She started 51 seconds back and is now 2:02.5 back overall.
A chase pack formed on Wednesday with Germany’s Nicole Fessel leading two others across the line in sixth (+2:39.1), with Switzerland’s Nathalie von Siebenthal following in seventh (+2:40.2) and Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva in eighth (+2:40.3). American Sadie Bjornsen hung with that group for the first three laps before dropping 30 seconds behind those three at 7.5 k.
Meanwhile, another U.S. Ski Team member Kikkan Randall moved into 10th and about 14 seconds behind Norway’s Kathrine Rolsted Harsem in ninth at 9.4 k. After starting 19th, Randall finished 10th (+3:15.5) behind Harsem (who started sixth) in ninth (+3:08.8).
Bjornsen ended up 12th (after starting 11th), 3:17.7 out of first and 0.6 seconds behind Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen in 11th (+3:17.1).
Also for the U.S., Liz Stephen improved from 35th to 26th (+4:21.1) at the finish, and Rosie Brennan started 42nd and ended up 42nd (+7:32.9).
In the Tour standings, Randall is up to 10th (+3:30.5), less than seven seconds out of ninth, and Bjornsen is 12th (+3:32.7), right behind Niskanen in 11th (+3:32.1). Stephen is 26th (+4:36.2) and Brennan 42nd (+7:47.9) overall.
The men’s 15 k freestyle pursuit starts at 6:45 a.m. Eastern. Follow FasterSkier’s live race updates on Twitter.
Tour standings (through Stage 4): Men | Women
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- Alex Harvey
- Dario Cologna
- Devon Kershaw
- Didrik Tønseth
- Erik Bjornsen
- Graeme Killick
- Heidi Weng
- Ingvild Flugstad Østberg
- Jessie Diggins
- Kathrine Rolsted Harsem
- Kerttu Niskanen
- Krista Parmakoski
- Len Valjas
- Liz Stephen
- Marcus Hellner
- Martin Johnsrud Sundby
- Matti Heikkinen
- Maurice Manificat
- men's 15 k freestyle pursuit
- Nathalie Von Siebenthal
- Nicole Fessel
- Noah Hoffman
- Oberstdorf 10 k freestyle pursuit
- Oberstdorf 15 k freestyle pursuit
- Oberstdorf pursuit
- Rosie Brennan
- Sadie Bjornsen
- Sergey Ustiugov
- Simen Hegstad Krüger
- Stina Nilsson
- Valentin Mättig
- Yulia Tchekaleva