Northug Jr. and Roponen win La Sgambeda
Official press release from FIS Marathon Cup
Right for the start of the La Sgambeda 42km FT race, the sun came over the hill an shone onto the thousands of racers, ready to start their voyage on the 21km loop through the “little Tibet” valley. And the sun shone especially on Petter Northug Jr. today – again!
After he didn't even get into the top 30 in the 30km FT World Cup race in Davos (SUI) yesterday, the Norwegian decided that he needed more races and some more training. Since he had enjoyed La Sgambeda last year, winning here his first FIS Marathon Cup, he thought this might be the thing just needed right now.
Always in the leading group, Northug managed once again to outprint everyone. However, this year it was not so easy. Petr Novak (CZE) and Aliaksei Ivanou (BLR) held hard against the sprinting Norwegian, however, it was Northug who's foot crossed the finish line first. Only 0.7s split him and Novak in the end, and 1s to Ivanou. In total it was a huge battle on the last 200m. 24 racers got into the finish within 10s!
On the women's side, it looked a long time as it would be a hard battle between last year's winner Riita-Liisa Roponen (FIN) and Seraina Boner (SUI), last year's third placed woman. And it stayed like it until the end, with Roponen having slightly more energy left for the final sprint. Larisa Shaidurova (RUS), who raced her first ever long distance race and FIS Marathon Cup, could get into third place.
Over 1000 racers took part in todays 42km skating race during which a 21km race was held as well. Even though not much natural snow was present, the organiser did its best to ensure good conditions on the track all way round. However, some grass and little stones made their appearance, but all racers were happy to have a race on. Temperatures around -9 at the start and around -4 at the finish, perfect sunshine and a lot of cheering spectators made the race once again to a great one which was enjoyed by everyone involved.
As the winner of the first FIS Marathon Cup of the season, Petter Northug Jr. is now also the leader of the overall FIS Marathon Cup 2013-14. He leads with 100 points in front of today's second placed Petr Novak (CZE, 80 points) and Aliaksei Ivanou (BLR, 60 points).
On the women's side it's of course Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) who wears now the red bib of the leader of the FIS Marathon Cup. She also leads with 100 points in front of today's second placed Seraina Boner (SUI, 80 points) and Larisa Shaidurova (RUS, 60 points).
The complete result list from today's race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing click here.
THE STATEMENTS OF THE BEST 3
Petter Northug Jr. (NOR):
I had it on my plan to come back here, but I wanted to see how I was feeling after the race in Davos. Finally, I decided to give it a go and do the race. I really enjoyed the race. It was a good race for me with fast conditions, however, that made it difficult to break away. Therefore I had to race tactical and bet on my sprinting capacities. I needed a good position during the last 5km and I could get it. However, the others didn't make it that easy to win this time. I will now stay here for training and this race was the perfect start into this period.
Petr Novak (CZE):
I am really happy. Finally it worked out with the podium! I was so many times fourth or fifth so I really wanted to have this podium. But for sure, everybody would like to be on the podium. We are here already a week and we tested a lot. Luckily the weather stayed the same this time so all the testing payed off. We waxed for the second lap so I had to try to stay with the other in the first round, which was pretty hard, especially since I broke a pole and lost around 50 positions. However, I hoped that our plan would work for the second round. About 1.5km before the finish I was still only in 10th position and I was stuck but suddenly Petter moved to the left and everybody with him to I had a free space in front of me which I used to overtake around 5 people. Suddenly I was behind Petter and stayed there until the end. Of course I tried hard to overtake him but he is strong in the finish. I am glad that I could ensure the second place.
Aliaksei Ivanou (BLR):
I didn't feel very good this morning and thought that this would be a very tough race. But somehow, I got into my race more and more and in the end I was in front, right behind Petter and Petr and it's wonderful to finish third here today! Once, I got caught as some people in front of me fell down right in front of me and I thought I would have lost the possibility to do anything good today. But suddenly, right before the finish I saw that the right side was free and I took this opportunity. I pushed really hard and it worked out. I am really happy!
Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN):
Seraina started very fast and I only thought: Oh my god...will it stay that hard until the end?! But it got easier by the time and I just had to follow her. However, it was a very hard race for me today and I am really, really happy that I could win it in the end. I had to trust my sprinting. I planned to do the World Cup as well as this race and I am glad that I did it. Seraina also raced in Davos so I knew that we both had the same level of races in the legs. High altitude plus a race in this condition, that's a great training for me for the Olympics as I am still focused on that. I am here already some time, so I got aclimatised. Over the time I saw what the organiser did to prepare the track. Sure, there were still some stones in the track, but they still did a huge work to make this race possible. I had hoped for a podium and I am really happy that it worked out!
Seraina Boner (SUI):
Of course it's a pity that I lost the finish sprint, but I had a little stumble right ebfore the finish and so in the end Riita-Liisa was faster. Nevertheless I am very happy with the result today. I raced the 15km World Cup race in Davos yesterday, as it is my hometown and I was a little afraid about this double stress, but I am now really satisfied that I did it and that I showed good results in both races. I was a bit tired in the morning but once on my skis, the fatigue was gone. I skied the whole time together with Riita-Liisa and we were in a group with some men. The race was very controlled but if you don't have any support, it's hard to get away. In total it was once again wonderful to ski here in this weather and in this atmosphere, even though there was little snow in some parts of the track.
Larisa Shaidurova (RUS):
It was the first time for me that I raced such a long race and also my first FIS Marathon Cup, that's why I had no idea what to expect. Especially because this race was also in such a high altirude. Therefore I am really really happy that I could already make it to the podium in this first race. In the beginning I was together with the first two girls but suddenly there was a little gap of around 300m and then I was alone and couldn't get back to them. I hope that I would have some other people to ski with at some point again, but unfortunately that didn't happen and so I had to ski the whole time alone and wasn't able to track down the other two girls. I am now looking forward to my next race.