World of XC Predictions: Stage 6 - 5/10 km classic
The 6th and second last stage in this year’s Tour de Ski is a classic technique interval start race over 5/10 km on a quite tough course with around 170 meters of climb per lap (2 laps for men / 1 lap for women).
With the skiers having 6 tough races in their legs, the time differences might be bigger in this race than usually in this type of race.
The overall leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby is also one of the favourites in the 10 km classic race with his current excellent shape. At the corresponding 10 km classic race in Kuusamo in November the Tour leader finished 5th – only 12.6 seconds down on the winner Lukas Bauer. Among the Top 10 in Kuusamo, only Bauer (1st), Sundby (5th), Jespersen (7th) and Legkov (10th – 29.5 seconds behind) are competing in Val di Fiemme. Legkov does however have a strong history in classic interval start races.
Other skiers strong in this discipline are Didrik Tønseth (3rd in 15 km classic interval start in Lillehammer in December last year), Petter Northug (won the 15 km classic in the World Champs in Val di Fiemme last year), Ilia Chernousov (no good results in this discipline in 2012/2013 or 2013/2014, but has earlier been stable in Top 8).
Regarding the overall tour standings, Sundby has a good chance to keep the gap down to his competitors at at least 30-40 seconds also after this stage – and maybe even increasing it if he is fully recovered after the Cortina-Toblach stage and has a good day. Note that there are again 15 – 10 – 5 bonus seconds to Top 3 – and thus this race might give quite significant time differences.
Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen has the overall lead with 44 seconds down to Therese Johaug in second spot. These two Norwegians are also the biggest favourites for this race based on earlier results – with Johaug having a slight edge over Jacobsen. Johaug finished 2nd in the Kuusamo 5 km classic race – 17 seconds ahead of Jacobsen in 8th.
Jacobsen has however showed impressive shape the last days – and is mentally strong – and thus this fight might be very close. It will also be very important for the overall – as Jacobsen should have a lead of at least a minute to Johaug ahead of the final climb to feel safe.
For the stage victory, also count in the very strong Finnish classic skiers Lahteenmaki (6th in Kuusamo), Niskanen(13th in Kuusamo – but won the classic 10 km mass start in Toblach a few days ago), Saarinen (bad race in Kuusamo, but shows improving shape) and Kylloenen (17th in Kuusamo) in the fight for the stage victory – as well asHeidi Weng (8th in Kuusamo) who starts to get in good classic shape.