Finland’s Ilkka Herola has taken the last step to the very top of the podium in Villach today. With an amazing effort in the last round, the Finn wrestled the victory from jumping winner Franz-Josef Rehrl by 7.3 seconds. Beaten on the last uphill, the Austrian took the time to celebrate with his home crowd and was also pleased with his first second place in the higher Nordic Combined competition circles. Compatriot Mario Seidl returned to the podium again with rank three, as he finished 18.6 seconds after the winner.
Earlier in the day, Franz-Josef Rehrl had worked his magic on the jumping hill again. Even with two gates less than the competition, he jumped 98 metres (128.4 p.) and ended the jumping event with a lead of 51 seconds on teammate and local hero Philipp Orter (92 m, 115.7 p.). Manuel Faißt held the third position with 92.5 metres and 113.9 points which had him start 58 seconds after Rehrl. Only these two athlete had time disadvantages under one minute.
A big group formed around Ilkka Herola, Mario Seidl, Tomas Portyk, Maxime Laheurte and Fabian Rießle, who all started between one minute and 2 and one minute and 29 seconds after the winner. Yellow bib bearer Johanned Rydzek did not have his strongest jumps in the Villacher Alpenarena. Today, he minimised the damage with 89 metres and 105.7 points, which had him start one minute and 31 seconds after Rehrl.
In the race, Franz-Josef Rehrl had a comfortable lead but was in the difficult position to have to ski alone on the demanding 2.5 kilometre laps in Villach. He mastered this task well on the first three laps, even if his advantage had shrunken to 29.8 seconds going out on the third lap. Hot on his heels were teammate Mario Seidl, Ilkka Herola and Philipp Orter, who worked together to close the gap. Manuel Faißt was part of the group as well in the first lap but fell back to his teammates Fabian Rießle and Johannes Rydzek who found each other early in the race and formed the second pursuing group.
Going out on the final lap, ten seconds separated the Germans from Herola, Seidl and Orter but the last lap changed the rankings significantly again. Ilkka Herola really went for it and caught Rehrl on the last uphill into the stadium. Mario Seidl was not able to hold on to Herola anymore and also local hero Philipp Orter could only salvage the fourth rank in the end. Fabian Rießle and Johannes Rydzek finished fifth and six respectively.
In the overall rankings, Rydzek and Seidl now share the yellow bib with 140 points each, Herola holds the second place with 136 points and Franz-Josef Rehrl holds position three with 130 points.