Klæbo wins 15 km mass start in 100th Tour de Ski stage

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR, Fischer ***) is the winner of the mass start over 15 kilometers in the classic style in Val di Fiemme (ITA). He left Sergey Ustiugov (RUS, Fischer ***), Alexander Bolshunov (RUS) and Andrey Larkov (RUS, Fischer ***) behind in the final sprint. Earlier Katharina Hennig (GER, Fischer ***) secured the first podium of her life. She finished third behind Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen (NOR) and Ebba Andersson - Therese Johaug (NOR, Fischer ***) was only fourth.

At first everything looked like business as usual: Therese Johaug kept up the pace and tried to open a gap on the Brink climb with Ebba Andersson, which was closed immediately in the following downhill to the hairpin. In the difficult curve at top speed, the Norwegian fell and Katharina Hennig was just able to avoid a fall. It took Johaug a while to regain the leadership position of the group of seven at that time and she was unable to break away during the entire race. Since the pace was little slower without pace maker Johaug, the group grew to 19 women by the middle of the second lap. In the sprint for bonus seconds after six kilometers, which already Jacobsen won ahead of Andersson and Hennig, six women plus Nepryaeva and Maubet Bjornsen escaped from the others, but both dropped out of the top group and were chasing the top six. The final phase began with the descent into the hairpin followed by the long Zorzi climb, on which the coaches cheered the athletes on again for the final sprint. At the beginning of the climb, Ingvild Flugstad Østberg (NOR, Fischer ***) got stuck in the snow with her left ski and fell, so Therese Johaug had to ski around her. Jacobsen, Andersson and Hennig increased the pace and raced towards the podium. Johaug was almost able to catch up again, but shortly before the summit the Norwegian left her strength and the first three had finally a lead. Katharina Hennig was the first into the descend to the stadium, but Jacobsen overtook outside and won the finish sprint ahead of Ebba Andersson and loudly cheering Katharina Hennig. Therese Johaug was the fourth to cross the line in front of Ingvild Flugstad Østberg. Natalia Nepryaeva (RUS, Fischer ***) finished sixth ahead of Sadie Maubet Bjornsen (USA, Fischer ***) and Heidi Weng (NOR, Fischer ***), who had lost the connection in the Brink climb. Ninth went to Jonna Sundling (SWE, Fischer **), Teresa Stadlober (AUT, Fischer ***) came in eleventh after a falli n the first lap.

=> 10km C Mass start Val di Fiemme (ITA)

=> Tour de Ski after five stages

With the exception of the intermediate sprint for the points ranking after 2.3 kilometers, in which Gleb Retivykh (RUS, Fischer ***) and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo slightly escaped for a few hundred meters, the pace was rather slow on the first two laps. In the middle of the race, Hans Christer Holund (NOR, Fischer ***) and Andrey Melnichenko (RUS, Fischer ***) were responsible for an increased pace, later the Russians took over the first positions, together with Iivo Niskanen (FIN, Fischer ***) and Dario Cologna (SUI, Fischer ***). In the first climb of the last lap, Sergey Ustiugov attacked, causing trouble for the Finn and reducing the group to twelve athletes. Three Russians and Klæbo opened a slight gap before the hairpin and the last climb, the Norwegian overtook at the Zorzi climb, but was counterattacked by Ustiugov. The Russian went first into the last small descent to the stadium, followed by Klæbo and Bolshunov. The Norwegian used the slipstream and his first-class ski to glide past effortlessly so that he could not be overtaken on the home straight. At the finish line he had every reason to be happy again, after he had been unresponsive to journalists for days after the disappointments of the last races. In the Tour classification he is now only 18 seconds behind Bolshunov, which he can change tomorrow in the classic sprint. Ustiugov is third in the Tour de Ski, 21 seconds behind Bolshunov. Andrey Larkov crossed the finish line in fourth. Dario Cologna was sixth ahead of Denis Spitsov (RUS, Fischer ***) and Hans Christer Holund. Iivo Niskanen was tenth and Artem Maltsev (RUS, Fischer ***) twelfth.

=> 15km C Mass start Val di Fiemme (ITA)

=> Tour de Ski after five stages

* = Fischer skis

** = Fischer skis and bindings

*** = Fischer skis, bindings and boots