The final 7th stage of the famous Tour de Ski competition is well known to be the toughest race of the entire FIS Cross-Country season.
One big uphill course in average 12% climb (and with a maximum of 28%) was the goal for todays final race of the 13th edition of the FIS Tour de Ski. 28 ladies and 43 men faced the challenge after having fought for the best positions during the previous 6 stages of the tour.
After winning the 6th stage of the Tour de Ski on the previous day, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg ensured herself a 53 second margin before the Russian Natalia Nepryaeva. The two athletes were ready to fight for the overall tour win that was decided on the 9km track up to Alpe Cermis. Krista Pärmäkoski (FIN) followed the duo after 2.13 minutes and proved her strenght as an enduring uphill skier once more. However, always in lead, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg managed to enlarge the gap between her and her fellow competitors and crossed the finish line after a 420 m climb at Alpe Cermis in 35:15.0. Nepryaeva followed +2:42.0 minutes and Pärmäkoski 2:55.9 minutes after the newly crowned "Queen of Alpe Cermis".
"For sure it's been a big dream to come first at the Tour de Ski. When I saw the finish line I thought maybe it's my day and my dream can come true today."
Ingvild Flugstad Østberg
Another record is in the books for Johannes Høsflot Klæbo as he wins the Tour de Ski as the youngest male athlete.
"I only watched it on TV and I am not looking forward to the race", Klæbo joked the day before, after winning the 15km mass start in Classic style, ensuring him a 1.20 minute margin to second ranked Sergey Ustiugov (RUS). Indeed, the climb on the toughest course of the FIS Cross-Country World Cup calendar is a physical and mental challenge. Additionally being chased by two Russian competitors (Ustiugov and Alexander Bolshunov), Klæbo kept on looking behind him, trying to check out how close he was being chased.
What he did not see what an exciting race his Norwegian team colleagues performed as they cought up to Alexander Bolshunov during the uphill. Simen Hegstad Krüger took off from the group and managed to gather his strenght all the way to the finish line.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo wins the 7th stage of the Tour de Ski and becomes the Overall leader of the tour. Sergey Ustiugov follows on the 2nd rank +16.7 minutes behind. Simen Hegstad Krüger raced to the podium and the 3rd rank with +48.8 seconds behind.
Completing the FIS Tour de Ski became one of the highlights in many athletes careers. Completing 7 races during 9 days is tough and deserves the greatest respect. Congratulations to all competitors for their endurance and strenght, physically and mentally!
For the entire standing and all results of the Tour de Ski, please click here.
"I saw him (Ustiugov) all the time so it was really tough to look back an seeing him getting closer and closer."
Johannes Høsflot Klaæbo