Tour de Ski Stage 3 (Lenzerheide, Switzerland): 10/15 freestyle pursuits
In the first three stages of the Tour de Ski (TdS), three different American women have reached the podium. Jessie Diggins became the latest in Monday’s New Year’s Day 10-kilometer freestyle pursuit in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Heading into Stage 3, the last one in Switzerland before the Tour moves to Oberstdorf, Germany, Diggins ranked third overall in the TdS. She started the pursuit in that place, 1:05 minutes after Tour leader Ingvild Flugstad Østberg of Norway. More than 30 seconds ahead of her, another Norwegian Heidi Weng headed out of the start in second place, 33 seconds after Østberg. And 10 seconds behind Diggins, her U.S. teammate Sadie Bjornsen started fourth, 1:15 out of first and just two seconds ahead of Russia’s Natalia Nepryaeva in fifth.
The women’s race then became a demonstration of strength and grit as Østberg kept herself out of reach, leading by a comfortable margin at every checkpoint and securing her second-straight win in 26:48.1 minutes. Weng could see her, and Diggins could see Weng, but neither linked up, as Weng finished second, 27.8 seconds after Østberg, and Diggins held onto third (+1:16.9) for her first podium of the season.
Behind Diggins, Finland’s Krista Pärmäkoski rose from eighth and 1:35 back at the start (starting behind her Finnish teammate Kerttu Niskanen in sixth and American Sophie Caldwell in eighth), to fourth at the finish, 1:45.9 out of first. Pärmäkoski outlasted Bjornsen by 0.3 seconds and Niskanen by 0.7 seconds at the finish to put herself in fourth overall in the Tour standings with four stages remaining, while Bjornsen placed fifth (+1:46.2) and Niskanen sixth (+1:46.6).
Norway’s Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen moved up from 15th at the start to seventh at the finish (+1:59.9) with the fifth-fastest time of day. Austria’s Teresa Stadlober won the time of day, covering the course in 26:20.6 and improving from 22nd to 11th.
The U.S. had three finish in the top 20 with Caldwell placing 18th (+2:59.2) after skiing with a group of nine, led by Jacobsen and Switzerland’s Nathalie von Siebenthal, until the last of three laps. Caldwell fell off the pace around 7.5 k and skied the remainder of the lap alone to put herself 18th overall in the tour.
Liz Stephen started 37th and moved up to 31st (+4:07.7) with the 26th-fastest time of day (1:27.2 behind Stadlober). Rosie Brennan started 33rd and finished in that position (+4:17.9), and Ida Sargent finished 55th (+6:09.2) after starting 31st. Sixty-one women remain in the tour with four stages to go.
Cologna Takes Control
One second wasn’t enough for Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov to keep Dario Cologna at bay on the Swiss skier’s home turf, as the two started the men’s 15 k freestyle pursuit in first and second, respectively, with just 1 second between them on Monday in Lenzerheide.
Cologna took the lead after the first lap, around 3.7 k, and never relinquished as he scored his second-straight stage victory in Stage 3 of the Tour de Ski. Cologna previously won Sunday’s 15 k classic, but was second based on time back in the overall Tour standings to Ustiugov.
Between 3.7 and 4.7 k, Cologna put about six seconds into the Russian and was more than 19 seconds ahead of him by the 5.8 k checkpoint. Ustiugov skied around 22 seconds back at 10 k, still 15 seconds clear of another Russian Alexander Bolshunov in third and 43 seconds ahead of another one of his teammates Alexey Chervotkin in fourth.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Alex Harvey skied in fifth place with the six-man chase group Chervotkin was leading. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby took charge of that group by 13.3 k, while Harvey remained in fifth.
At the finish, Cologna took the win by 17.6 seconds over Ustiugov, crossing the line in 34:56.6. Ustiugov placed second and Bolshunov third (+45.5), while Harvey charged hard for the podium and placed fourth (+46.8). The Canadian beat Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin by 0.3 seconds for fourth, while Poltoranin settled for fifth (+47.1), Sundby sixth (+48.1), Norway’s Hans Christer Holund seventh (+48.2), Chervotkin eighth (+49.9), Finland’s Iivo Niskanen ninth (+51.5), and Sweden’s Marcus Hellner 10th (+1:21.7).
Cologna leads the Tour by 22.6 seconds over Ustiugov, Bolshunov is 55.5 seconds back in third, and Harvey 1:01.8 minutes back in fourth, just ahead of Poltoranin in fifth (+1:02.1), Sundby in sixth (+1:03.1) and Holund in seventh (+1:03.2).
Erik Bjornsen is up to 22nd in the Tour standings with four stages to go, 2:35.7 out of first, after placing 22nd on Monday and finishing 2:20.7 behind Cologna. The U.S. Ski Team’s leading man started 25th and skied the 26th-fastest time of day.
Can you guess who won the men’s time of day? France’s Maurice Manificat, who has a tendency to win these FIS points races, with a course time of 34:41.8. Manificat started 24th and skied up to 14th at the finish. Harvey’s time ranked fourth, 7.8 seconds slower than Manificat’s, while Holund was fifth fastest (+8.5) and Cologna sixth fastest (+13.2).
Four American men raced the third stage of the Tour, with Simi Hamilton finishing 48th (up from 54th at the start), Paddy Caldwell finishing 68th (up from 74th), and Andy Newell finishing 74th (after starting 69th). Overall, Hamilton, a sprint-focused skier who hadn’t planned on racing the whole Tour, according to U.S. head coach Chris Grover, is 48th in the Tour, 4:28.9 out of first. Caldwell is 68th (+6:19.4), and another sprinter, Newell 74th (+8:30.6) out of 77 men remaining in the TdS.
Racing resumes Wednesday in Oberstdorf with Stage 4 classic sprints.