Falla and Klæbo celebrate favorite victories in classic sprint

With Maiken Caspersen Falla (NOR, Fischer ***) and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR, Fischer ***) two absolute top favorites were happy about their opening victory in Ruka (FIN). The other podium spots in the first stage of the three-day tour went on the ladies' side to Jonna Sundling (SWE, Fischer **) and Sadie Maubet Bjornsen (USA, Fischer ***).

It was a women's final that looked like a surprise for a long time. Maiken Caspersen Falla had to leave the tempo dictation over long parts of the race her more or less unknown teammate Ane Appelkvist Stenseth (NOR) and seemed to have problems to follow the colleague. However, she had to pay tribute to her high speed in the last climb: Falla went past her again, tore a large gap and celebrated a sovereign first win of the season. "It's a nice 10 year jubilee, my first time here was in 2008. It's one of my favorite tracks, I like this classic climb here. That was a great anniversary, a very good race. I tried to get a good position on the first climb and then I wanted to attack and that worked out well", said the Norwegian about her 20th World Cup victory, which earned her only 30 bonus seconds for the mini-tour since this year. Jonna Sundling was one of the few Swedes who will be satisfied with the result today. Most of the athletes of the strong sprint team were eliminated in the prologue or in the quarterfinals. With her second place Sundling equaled her best ever World Cup result. In a photo finish, Sadie Maubet Bjornsen, who married to a Frenchman this summer, secured the last podium place by a hair's breadth ahead of Ane Appelkvist Stenseth. Stina Nilsson (SWE, Fischer **) could not keep up with the pace of the Norwegians from the halfway point of the finals and a gap was opened. While other athletes, who were hooking with each other still behind Stenseth, Falla and Nilsson, fought back again, Nilsson could no longer fight for the first places. The Swede had not enough energies for a final spurt and was fifth.

=> Sprint C Ruka (FIN)

There was little doubt that Johannes Høsflot Klæbo would win again, despite the fact that the Norwegian himself was still thinking about at his fauxpas exactly one year ago. Once again, Alexander Bolshunov (RUS) tried to stand up to the Norwegian. He increased the the pace with using double poling in the flat part and took the lead in front of Richard Jouve (FRA) and Klæbo. On the way to the last climb, the Norwegian played his strengths and was again in a class of his own with his unusual skiing style, which no one can really copy. "It's nice to be in Ruka again. Last year, things were not going so well, but now I'm happy to win again and to be on the podium with Pål. My technique seems to work well, I train that all year round", said the two-time overall World Cup winner. Compatriot Pål Golberg finished second ahead of the Frenchman and the Russian. Fifth went to Emil Iversen (NOR, Fischer ***) and Oskar Svensson (SWE, Fischer ***).

=> Sprint C Ruka (FIN)

Fischer * = Fischer skis

Fischer ** = Fischer skis and bindings

Fischer *** = Fischer skis, bindings and boots