Nordic

Norwegian relay still unbeaten

Since 2001, the Norwegian men's relay is unbeaten at World Championships - and it remains so: Emil Iversen, Martin Johnsrud Sundby (both NOR, Fischer skis, bindings and boots), Sjur Røthe (NOR) and Johannes Høsflot Klæbo (NOR, Fischer Skis, bindings and boots) triumphed in Seefeld (AUT). Silver went to Russia with Andrey Larkov (RUS, Fischer skis, bindings and boots), Alexander Bessmerthnykh, Alexander Bolshunov (both RUS) and Sergey Ustiugov (RUS, Fischer skis, bindings and boots),for bronze cheered the Frenchman Adrien Backscheider, Maurice Manificat , Clement Parisse and Richard Jouve (all FRA).

Gray clouds, rain and a drop in temperature to about zero degrees awaited the cross-country men on the morning before the relay race. A total of 4x10 kilometers had to be completed, three laps for each athlete. The pace was initially not very high for the first skiers, but two kilometers before the first exchange Andrey Larkov suddenly attacked and made sure that a jolt went through the field: Russia, USA and Norway opened a small gap, Sebastian Eisenlauer (GER, Fischer skis, bindings and boots) led the pursuit group, escaped from it and skied single-handedly to the top, while Erik Bjornsen (USA) fell behind. Shortly thereafter, Norway, Russia and Germany came together for the first exchange. However, the seven-headed chase group was only seven seconds back and by slower pace and a speed improvement, six athletes were together shortly afterwards. Sweden, France and Germany fell back after an attack from Finland. Slow starter Florian Notz (GER, Fischer skis, bindings and boots) as the third German skier in his first lap was not able to close the small gap to France, thus France and Finland, where Matti Heikkinen (FIN, Fischer skis, bindings and boots) lost the connection to the top duo, fought for bronze on the last ten kilometers.

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo and Sergey Ustiugov fought for gold for Norway and Russia, and Ustiugov immediately stepped up the pace to shake off the Norwegian as fast as he could, which was his only chance, according to his coach Markus Cramer: "The only chance which he has is to try to escape from him with more speed in the second lap, but it will be difficult. This will probably a sprint final again and I hope today we have the happy ending on our side." The Norwegian stayed tuned and for a long time it seemed as if both wanted to focus on the sprint. The Russian did the whole work at a controlled pace - until the Norwegian suddenly attacked! Even before the end of the second lap Klæbo made for the deciding advantage and the Russian was not able to follow him. The lead grow to about 15 seconds and Klæbo turned over again to have the control and not wasting unnecessary forces. Sovereign he skied the race to the end and secured himself and his teammates Emil Iversen, Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Sjur Røthe the gold medal in front of Russia. Bronze went after an exciting fight to the French in front of the Finns Ristomatti Hakola (FIN, Fischer skis, bindings and boots), Iivo Niskanen (FIN), Matti Heikkinen and Perttu Hyvarinen (FIN, Fischer skis, bindings and boots). The Swedes Oskar Svensson (SWE, Fischer skis and bindings), Calle Halfvarsson, Jens Burman and Viktor Thorn (all SWE) saved fifth place just before the chasing trio.

=> 4x10km Seefeld (AUT)