Stage 5: Short Classic race in Toblach

03 January 2012 08:31
toblach stadium
toblach stadium -

The short classic race in Toblach the day after the rest day is a new addition to the Tour de Ski. The race length is something new in the Cross Country World Cup circus – around 30% longer than the prologue. The women are skiing 3.3 km and the men 5 km – and time differences are not expected to be very large in such a short race.

However with a quite tough course and 15/10/5 bonus seconds to the three first skiers, this should not be dismissed as an unimportant stage in the Tour. The course is of the “classic” type – with “long, beautiful inviting uphill slopes” as Anna Haag puts it.  When comparing to other races in the World Cup, the Falun prologue of 3.3 km / 2.5 km in classic style is the closest to compare with. 

Classic individual start races were previously one of Petter Northugs weak sides, but the Norwegian tour leader has earlier performed well in very short classic races, and Northug has also proved lately that he is a complete skier to be counted on in any type of race. In the 3.3 km classic prologue in Falun in March last year Northug was second behind the Russian Ilia Chernousov – with Maxim Vylegzhanin in third. Expect the Russians to perform very well also in this 5 km race. Another skiers who is to be counted in is Dario Cologna who won the 3.3 km classic prologue in Falun in 2010 – will we see Cologna in red after this stage?

This 5 km classic race should also fit Lukas Bauer very well, Bauer being a classic specialist and strong in uphills. This is the last real chance for Bauer to gain some seconds ahead of the long Cortina-Toblach stage, as the sprint on Wednesday is not Bauer’s strongest side. Rønning, Rickardsson and Manificat should also be counted in among the favourites.

In the women’s race the fight between the two main Tour contenders – Marit Bjørgen and Justyna Kowalczyk – will continue. Looking at the Falun classic 2.5 km races, they have taken one each the last two years.  Therese Johaug will as always give the two a fight all the way to the finish – as she did in Falun in March last year were she finished 13 seconds behind Bjørgen and just a few seconds behind Kowalczyk.

Short classic races are also a good competition form for Anna Haag – and the race profile should fit Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen well.

The men will kick off the first stage out of three in Toblach, starting at 12:45 CET. Women starts their race at 15:45

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