Bjoergen sprints to victory and takes the overall Tour Lead UPDATED

05 January 2012 15:22
Bjoergen and Kowalczyk
Bjoergen and Kowalczyk -

That it was either Marit Bjoergen or Justyna Kowalczyk who would win the 7th stage of Tour de Ski in 15 km free technique was never a question today. Keeping a high speed throughout the race, Bjoergen and Kowalczyk fought together to keep the gap down to Johaug as much as possible. Bjoergen tried to attack a few times during the race, but Kowalczyk who is in a great shape at the moment kept up with Bjoergen, and the victory had to be decided in the last sprint before the finish line. Bjoergen was in front throughout the entire last round, and came in first on the last flat part on the stadium. Sprinting into victory, Bjoergen could celebrate her fourth in a row stage win, and thereby take over the overall Tour de Ski lead. Kowalczyk finished second, 2 seconds behind. Bjoergen who won 15 bonus seconds with her win, and Kowalcyzk 10, has now a lead of +7 seconds ahead of Kowalczyk in the Overall lead.

Therese Johaug, who started 2:28 behind Kowalczyk was never any threat to the two ladies in front. Having said that she hoped to be inspired by her amazing performance in Oslo, where she took her first individual World Championships gold medal in 30 km, where she also skied by herself for 15 km, she lost time this day. Having six stages in Tour de Ski in her legs, she didn’t look as fresh as earlier, and had to fight with herself. Still, she finished third, 3:26:09 behind Bjoergen.

The fight for top 10 was perhaps the most interesting part of this day. Krista Lahteenmaki who started fifth, went with an amazing speed and overtook Randall, Oestberg, Kristoffersen and Kalla. They skied together for a bit before Lahtenmaki attacked again and never looked back. Lahtenmaaki finished fourth, which is her best performance in Tour de Ski. Kikkan Randall, Marthe Kristoffersen and Charlotte Kalla came into the stadium as a group and sprinted for the finish.

Complete result lists and Tour standing:

With 5 Norwegian girls in the top 10 standing, Marit Bjoergen will probably have an advantage for Saturday’s 10 km classic race, where there will be further bonus points to win. Tomorrow they will have their second and final rest day, before Tour de Ski has its two last stages in Val di Fiemme.

More information about the coming stages will be out soon.