A cat and mouse game in the women’s race between Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Masako Ishida, Team Koteng, and a surprise breakaway in the men’s race defined the day.
The third Visma Ski Classics race, and the first one in Visma Alp Trophy, took place in Seefeld, Austria, as Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, 60 km, welcomed pro skiers after the long holiday break. The conditions were perfect for racing, and the athletes were able to bask in the sunshine as they negotiated their way through a challenging course.
In the women’s race, Johansson Norgren and Ishida broke away right after the bang and continued their play of back and forth almost to the end. Norgren got a gap in the Leutasch valley, and Ishida got caught up by the chasing group of three; Sara Lindborg, Team Serneke, Karin Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Santander, and Lina Korsgren, Åre Ski Team. After leaving the valley, Ishida managed to catch Johansson Norgren again in the long climbs due to her diagonal striding. The last downhill section proved to be crucial to Lindborg as she was able to pass Ishida in the final kilometers.
“It was my plan to go full speed from the beginning,” the happy winner Johansson Norgren admitted. “I knew Ishida will go fast in the climbs, but I felt strong from the beginning. It was really hard skiing alone in the valley, and when Ishida caught me up, I wasn’t sure if I could win the race. But the last part of the course was perfect for me and I had no problems securing the victory today.”
In the men’s race, a decisive breakaway happened once the lead group reached the Leutasch valley. Vinjar Skogsholm, Team Parkettpartner, and Andreas Holmberg, Team Serneke, decided to attack and got away from the pack. Their lead extended quickly, and by the time they reached the first climb after the valley, the chasing group was about 90 seconds behind them. Holmberg realized that the opportunity had presented itself and attacked while Skogsholm couldn’t keep up with the impressive pace.
Only Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team Santander, and Ilya Chernousov, Bauer Ski Team, were strong enough to chase after the lonely wolf in the front. The former was able to catch Holmberg about three kilometers before the finish. Today’s “Visma Skier of the Day” Holmberg couldn’t follow Gjerdalen but managed to keep Chernousov behind him.
“I didn’t like the fact that we gave too much leeway for Holmberg and Skogsholm,” Gjerdalen acknowledged after the race. “I’m happy that Ilya helped me in our attempt to catch up with Holmberg, but I wasn’t really sure if we were going to make it. You never know how the other person is feeling in the front, what kind of skis he has and what goes on in his mind. But I managed to win today and it feels great to be back on the top.”
Johansson Norgren took home all the points today as she was the fastest skier in the sprint and the climb competitions, she also is in the lead of Visma Alp Trophy. Her teammate Anton Karlsson, won the men’s sprint competition while Morten Eide Pedersen, Team BN Bank, managed to cross the climb point as the fastest skier. The youth categories are now led by Evelina Bångman, Team Mäenpää, and Ermil Vokuev, Russian Marathon Team. Team Santander and Lager 157 Ski Team are sharing the lead position before they all head to Switzerland next weekend where La Diagonela, 65 km, is next in line in the tour.
TOP 5 WOMEN TODAY
# name team time
1 Britta Johansson Norgren LAG 2:49:16.0
2 Sara Lindborg SER 2:49:53.5
3 Masako Ishida KOT 2:50:14.9
4 Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes SAN 2:50:56.7
5 Lina Korsgren ARE 2:51:21.1
TOP 5 MEN TODAY
# name team time
1 Tord Asle Gjerdalen SAN 2:27:49.0
2 Andreas Holmberg SER 2:28:03.8
3 Ilya Chernousov BST 2:28:21.0
4 Ermil Vokuev RMT 2:28:56.6
5 Anton Karlsson LAG 2:28:57.2