Amazing race for Dario Cologna, remains the Tour leader
What most people thought would end up being a race with Dario Cologna and Petter Northug up front, helping each other to keep the speed up and avoid the group behind catching up on them, ended up being an impressive performance by Dario Cologna.
Cologna started 13 seconds ahead of Petter, and went with full speed from the very beginning. After approximate 3 k’s Northug caught up on him, but soon realized he couldn’t keep up with the speed Dario was skiing. Skiing together for approximate 1 k, Petter fell back, and lost over 40 seconds within a very short period of time. Petter had to give up on following Dario, and was overtaken by Alexander Legkov who started third. At 7.7 km the two of them were 1:12 behind Dario. The group behind them, led by Devon Kershaw, Maxim Vylegzhanin, Maurice Manificat, Marcus Hellner and Lukas Bauer had an impressing speed and skied together as a professional cycling team, constantly changing the leader of the group.
Lukas Bauer fell after approximate 10 km, broke his pole and lost contact with the group. Vylegzhanin was forced to leave the group as well, and ended up skiing together with Bauer. Now it was up to Hellner, Manificat and Kershaw to overtake Northug and Legkov. At 18.5 km Northug and Legkov could see the first group behind them and at 22 km they were gathered. Still working smart together by changing who was pulling the rest of the group, they could only take a few seconds on Dario, who kept an amazing speed throughout the race.
At remaining 3.3 km, Dario came into the stadium with cheering spectators applauding him for his great performance. Skiing out of the stadium and starting on the last 3 km, he met the group, and knew he had a solid gap. Even though he looked quiet tired in the end, he kept on fighting for the last kilometres and could ski into the stadium by himself for the second time, taking the most impressive stage win so far in this Tour de Ski, and winning another 15 bonus seconds.
The group, still lead by Hellner kept together for the last 3 k’s, and came into the stadium together. Finishing with a sprint, Northug was fastest ahead of Legkov, Kershaw, Hellner and Manificat.
Cologna has a solid gap before the two last stages of Tour de Ski. Tomorrow the athletes will have a well-deserved rest day, before the Tour continues with 20 km mass start in Val di Fiemme on Saturday. Stay tuned to see who the Tour de Ski winner will be!!