Petter Northug takes Norwegian team to victory in the men's relay. UPDATED

04 March 2011 13:41

One of the most exciting relays ever was to be seen today in the Holmenkollen national arena. Petter Northug took Norway to victory and fully sold out stadium could start to celebrate.

Petter Northug decided the relay in the very last uphill on the stadium at the biathlon shooting range. With three giant steps he came in front Marcus Hellner of Sweden and in the home straight controlled the first position. Tobias Angerer took Germany with an outstanding performance to bronze medal.

Tens of thousands of spectators saw today a thrilling and exciting 4x10 km Relay Men. Team Norway (Sundby, Roenning, Gjerdalen, Northug) edged out Swedish squad (Rickardsson, Olsson, Soedergren, Hellner) to silver medal. Tobias Angerer brought German team (Filbrich, Teichmann, Goering, Angerer) to bronze medal.

For many Norwegians today was the peak and highlight of the World Championships. Expectations were high and home fans asked nothing but gold.

Daniel Rickardsson had a clear tactic and started fast right from the beginning. Very soon after the start Rickardsson, Vylegzhanin for Russia and Sundby for Norway formed a powerful trio and escaped Gaillard of France and Nousiainen of Finland. Rickardsson was very active in his leg and rarely allowed Vylegzhanin to go in front. In the second 5 km loop the Russian took over the initiative and attacked. Rickardsson could catch the attempt to escape but Sundby had enough in the second lap and lost couple of seconds. After the first exchange Russia and Sweden were in the lead and Norway was +22.7 behind.

In the second classic leg Eldar Roenning showed why he had won silver medal in 15 km Classic and caught Johan Olsson of Sweden. Roennig had the fastest leg time of all the athletes and came together with Johan Olsson in the stadium for the second exchange. Russian Stanislav Volzhentsev got in trouble in the second 5 km lap and gave over to Alexander Legkov with a +20 second gap. Sami Jauhojaervi, Girgio di Centa, Keishin Yoshida and Axel Teichmann did a very good job in their legs and got close to the third place and the Russians.

Third leg eventually became a tactical battle. Soedergren (SWE) and Gjerdalen (NOR) were caught by the chasing group led by Roland Clara (ITA) and Franz Goering (GER). Juha Lallukka of Finland was very strong and it was him and Roland Clara who attacked in last few kilometers and escaped. Neither Gjerdalen nor Soedergren could follow. Franz Goering showed very good performance and brought Germany to exchange on the fifth place in contact with Sweden and Norway.

Pietro Piller Cottrer was the anchor man for Italy and together with Matti Heikkinen of Finland were in front. However, Petter Northug, Marcus Hellner and Tobias Angerer came from behind. For a big part of the race all five were changing in the lead and from time to time Petter Northug tested his opponents in the uphills. In the last 5 km lap and in the last long uphill Petter Northug attacked and only Marcus Hellner and Tobias Angerer could catch this break away. Matti Heikkinen tried to come back did not have enough power as well as Pietro Piller Cottrer.

Angerer took initiative and brought the trio in the stadium. In the last uphill at the biathlon shooting range Petter Northug attacked. He gained some meters on Tobias Angerer and Marcus Hellner on the flat section and came in the home stretch with a decent gap, which was too big for the Swede to close up. Northug crossed the finish line on the first place and gave Norway long awaited gold medal. Sweden finished silver and Tobias Angerer brought Germany to the first Cross-Country medal at these World Championships. Finland finished fourth and Italy fifth.

Quotes

Martin Johnsrud Sundby NOR

I didn't dare to watch the finish. Too nerve wracking. Being part of this team means so much to me. This has been our goal all season. I thought I had a good day, but I didn't. Fortunately I'm part of the best team in the world.

Marcus Hellner SWE

The guys did a great job. My legs felt heavy towards the end and I wasn't able to follow Petter. The finish is typical of Petter. We have a strong team and I'm proud to be part of it.

Jens Filbrich GER

I was a little disappointed after my leg, but Axel, Franz and Tobias did a great job. Bronze feels as good as gold.