Visma Ski Classics press release - Justyna Kowalczyk and Petter Eliassen won on Reistadlopet, Visma Ski Classics competition from Setermoen to Bardufoss in northern Norway.
Eliassen of Team LeasePlan took the lead in the first long uphill towards Orta, the second control point. After that, he never gave an opportunity for the others to reduce the gap. The chasing group consisted of three skiers from different teams; Anders Aukland of Team Santander, Simen Østensen of Team BN Bank and Lucas Bauer of Team Pioneer Investments. Andreas Nygaard was able to win the first sprint before the longest climb on today’s course and strengthened his lead in the overall green sprint bib competition.
Eliassen showed no signs of slowing down on the second climb and he finished the race three minutes and seventeen seconds ahead of last week’s winner in Årefjällsloppet, Aukland who in turned managed to gain a short gap over Østensen and Bauer in the closing kilometres. Østensen was stronger in the final sprint leaving Bauer in fourth place. The Hertz yellow champion bib holder Gjerdalen improved towards the end to finish in fifth place.
“It felt good to win a race this season,” the extremely satisfied winner Eliassen claimed. “It was a tough race and diagonal striding was the best option today. It has been a while since anyone of us has done a race using kick wax, which made this race quite challenging, but it worked out perfectly in the end. I haven’t really thought about the Visma Nordic Trophy tour that much, but I know that I have a good chance in that now so I will try to win again in the last race in Finland.”
Kowalczyk won women's race
The women’s race was not as clear-cut as the men’s since Justyna Kowalczyk of Team Santander and Masako Ishida of Team United Bakeries were neck and neck until they reached the mountain top for the second time. There, Kowalczyk was able to break away and finally leave the Japanese skier behind. The gap between these two athletes was 55 seconds in the end while Astrid Øyre Slind skied by herself most of the way and arrived at the finish as the third fastest skier almost 3.5 minutes behind the winner.
The women’s Hertz yellow champion bib holder Johansson Norgren managed to win the first green sprint bib stage, but that was the only real highlight of her performance. Double-poling the Reistadlopet course proved to a strenuous task for her. She finished sixth, more than 13 minutes behind the winner in what was her worst result of what has been an otherwise outstanding season.
“I had amazing skis and great glide,” the always-smiling Kowalczyk said. “Masako was strong in the uphill sections and we worked together a bit, but I knew that I had an advantage over her in the last part because of my fast skis. This was the hardest long distance ski race I’ve ever done in my career and before the race, I accepted the fact that this will be a really tough experience. The climbs are so long and steep, and I’ve never raced on a course like this. It was extremely tough but it feels wonderful to win again!”
Full article at: HERE