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Amundsen gets first World Cup win at the right time: 'A really important race for me'

Jan 27, 2023·Cross-Country
Harald Oestberg Amundsen claimed his first World Cup victory: @Nordic Focus.

With the 2023 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Planica, Slovenia, around the corner, Norway's Harald Oestberg Amundsen showed medal candidate qualities as he brought home the men's 10km free at the Coop FIS Cross-Country World Cup in Les Rousses, France, on Friday.

The 24-year-old started strongly, had the best time after 4.8km and kept his lead until the finish line to grab his first World Cup victory 11.9 seconds before compatriot Sjur Roethe.  William Poromaa from Sweden finished third.

Amundsen's win came at the right time, sending a clear message to the Norwegian management ahead of the world championships starting on the 21 February. The Scandinavian Cross-Country superpower took seven of the race's nine top spots and the fight for starting spots in Planica will me tough.

"It was a really important race for me," Amundsen said.

"Many Norwegian guys fighting for the Planica world championships, so I needed a good result today. It seems like I have a good shape and everything was perfect today, I had a strong finish."

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Poromaa and French home hope Jules Lapierre, who finished fifth, were the only non-Norwegians among the first nine skiers. Poromaa, who claimed this season’s first individual podium, had been in the lead after the first lap but could not keep up with Amundsen in the remaining two. The Norwegian winner hade made sure to stay among the top skiers in the beginning but keep some fuel in the tank for a last push.

"(My plan was) just to go fast and try to keep a good pace but save some energy for the last lap, and then give it all in," Amundsen said.

Norway's overall World Cup leader Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo started last and had saved some energy for his strong finish, but had to settle for an eighth-place despite having climbed six positions in the last 1.4km. Apart from the final climb event at the 2022/23 Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy, this was the first in nine World Cup events that Klaebo took part in and did not win.

On Saturday, however, things could be back to normal for the twice Olympic sprint champion as the three-day weekend of World Cup action in Les Rousses continues with the sprint classic.

Click here for full results from the men's 10km individual start free.

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