Novak (CZE) and Roponen (FIN) win 40th Dolomitenlauf
Set in a winter wonderland, the 40th Dolomitenlauf started under snowfall and just below 0 degrees. After around 18km, the best ones got away and formed a group of around 20 racers, some of them however skiing only the short distance race of 20km. Therefore, the group got even smaller soon thereafter.
Around 7km before the finish, Petr Novak (CZE) had a one-minute lead ahead of closest followers Martin Koukal (CZE), Martin Bajcicak (SVK), Tom Reichelt (GER) and Benoit Chauvet (FRA) who formed the first chasing group. The order should stayed the same through the finish – only with a larger margin for Novak of over a minute.
On the women's side, it looked from the beginning as if Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN) would earn her second FIS Marathon Cup victory of the season. However, she was challenged by the later second and third, Julia Tikhonova and Olga Rocheva (both RUS). Even though they were disturbed by some men racing with them, the three stuck together until around 3km before the finish when Roponen broke away for the win.
In total, around 1000 racers took the start today, enjoying the deep winter atmosphere - “everyone a winner over him or herself” like the slogan of the Dolomitenlauf says.
Novak and Roponen lead Overall FIS Marathon Cup
After his victory today, Novak (CZE) is now leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 180 points and takes therefore the red bib of the leader from Petter Northug Jr.. Second is Martin Koukal (CZE) with 120 points and Northug Jr. (NOR) is third with 100 points.
On the women's side, there is no change in the lead: Ropononen (FIN) is now leading with 200 points in front of Larisa Shaidurova (RUS, 105 points). The third place is shared between Seraina Boner (SUI) and Tikhonova (RUS), who both have 80 points.
The complete result list from today's race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing: http://www.worldloppet.com/fmcresults.php
Quotes from the Top-Three
1st Petr Novak (CZE):
I am just so happy. My first FIS Marathon Cup victory, it's amazing! I made the right choice when choosing my skis – they worked perfectly. I had a fall in the first downhill as I came into the deep snow on the side, but luckily I got back in front relatively soon without losing too much energy. I attacked around km 35 and I realised soon that the gap was growing and growing so I just pushed on to ensure my victory. It was a very tough and hard race today but I am really really satisfied and happy.
2nd Martin Koukal (CZE):
I am satisfied with my race and second place. It was not easy today due to the track preparation and especially due to the skidoo with the camera which drove all the time in the middle of the track which made it very soft. Petr was very strong today but I think I would have been able to rival longer with him if I wouldn't have had the falls. When he attacked I thought we would be able to catch him again in the downhill but we didn't and the gap grew bigger and bigger. In the end Benoit couldn't follow anymore and Tom had a fall so it was only me and Martin (Bajcicak). We both knew that only the middle row was fast so we both went into it. I knew from my World Cup Sprints that I am good in the finish sprint and it worked out.
3rd Martin Bajcicak (SVK):
It was a hard race – you had to work the whole time. And the snowfall didn't make it any easier. I am very satisfied with my third place even though the second spot would have been possible. 3km before the finish, Martin (Koukal) and me were suddenly alone – then I knew that the podium would be possible.
1st Riitta-Liisa Roponen (FIN):
I am really happy with this victory. Yesterday I was still racing in the 10km classic Finnish Championships in Helsinki. I took the plane to Salzburg right after the race and came here by car. I thought that I would just take this race as a good training for the Olympics, therefore I am even happier that I could even win it. Right at the start I got away fast but already 1km after the start I was alone and the others got to me pretty quickly. I then just stayed with them and followed. However, around 3km before the finish I felt that I still had enough power left to give it a go and I changed the pace which the others couldn't follow anymore.
2nd Julia Tikhonova (RUS):
When I saw the weather this morning I knew that this race wouldn't be an easy race. You had to work all the time. I didn't expect it to be that hard in the uphills though – at one moment I even thought that I couldn't go any further anymore and I was ready to quit, but when I saw that all the other girls just pushed hard and went on, I pushed on as well. Sometimes the fogg was so thick that we all couldn't see the track anymore and there were several falls. We also had some guys in our group which pushed us several times – that was very annoying. But I din't want to waste my energy by pushing them back. However, I am very happy with my result today.
3rd Olga Rotcheva (RUS):
It was a hard distance, but I had really good skis. I nevertheless enjoyed the race, I am healthy and I felt good. However, sometimes it was very hard to see the track and I got into the deep snow on the side several times and even fell down due to that. Around 5km before the finish I thought that this could be a podium for me. Normally, races in classic technique are better fore me therefore I am really satisfied with this result. Now I hope that I will be able to race Marcialonga next week – I only do not yet have a start bib!
30 days left until Tartu Maraton – 6643 registered so far
There is 30 days left until the 43rd Tartu Maraton and a total of 6643 skiers have signed up alltogether.
5392 skiers have registered for the 63km distance and 1251 for 31km. At the same time last year 300 more skiers had registered, but one has to consider the fact that Estonia was covered with snow already in November back then. This year, cold weather arrived just few weeks ago and many are still waiting for some extra snow.
The course of Tartu Maraton is covered with a maximum of 5cm thick natural snow cover, which is still not enough to prepare the basis of the course. On a more positive note, weather forecast predicts pleanty of cold weather and snowfall can be excpeted at the end of next week.