The 32-kilometer Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge saw Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, as the winners after a tough final climb.
After a day full of action, Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, dominated the race and won Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge, the fifth event of Ski Classics Season XIV and the first Iconic Climb this season.
PRATO PIAZZA MOUNTAIN CHALLENGE – MEN’S RACE
The men’s race started at 9:00 CET with a 1km neutral start, and there was no decisive action until before the only Sprint of the day, at Nordic Arena, after just 7.8km from the start.
At the checkpoint, Vebjørn Moen, Team Aker Dæhlie, was the fastest to cross the sprint line, followed by Lorenzo Busin, Team Internorm Alpenplus Trentino, and Alfred Buskqvist, Team Ramudden.
Like yesterday, Viktor Mäenpää, Team Mäenpää, tried his luck and today got a break right after the Sprint mark, with the gap growing fast.
The only man between Viktor and the main group was Einar Kalland-Olsen, Exsitec Ski Team, who could bring the leader back and start working together, extending their lead to about 40 seconds over the chasing group.
With 21km into the race, at Schluderbach, the leading duo was still strong at the front, but the group started to increase the pace to bring them back. First to get in action was Herman Paus, Team Ramudden, taking the group’s front and stretching the field.
With 8.5km to go, the break was caught, and the real action began, with Paus pushing hard at the front and the group starting to split.
With about 4km left, Thomas Ødegaarden, Team XPND Fuel, increased the pace, and only Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team XPND Fuel, were able to follow.
Near the mountain plateau, Ødegaarden pressed the pace again, and only Persson could follow. With 1km to go, it was time for Persson to shine, attacking Ødegaarden and instantly creating a gap.
In the end, Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, was the strongest in the final part of the climb at almost 2000 meters above sea level, winning the race, the first Iconic Climb, and leaving Thomas Ødegaarden, Team XPND Fuel, 9.1 seconds behind in second place and his first ever Pro Tour podium.
Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team XPND Fuel, managed to take the last place on the podium, 22.7 seconds behind the winner.
Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge – Top 3 Men
- Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, 1:38:31.1
- Thomas Ødegaarden, Team XPND Fuel, +9.1
- Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team XPND Fuel, +22.7
PRATO PIAZZA MOUNTAIN CHALLENGE – WOMEN’S RACE
The women’s race, which started at 9:05 CET, followed the same script as the men’s, with no decisive action until the Sprint point, with all the big favorites in the front group.
Anikken Gjerd Alnæs, Team Ragde Charge, crossed the Sprint line first, followed by Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, and Magni Smedås, Team Eksjöhus. After that, a big group was still in the front, with Team Ragde Charge in the lead controlling the pace.
With 12km left, the front group was still significant, with Astrid Øyre Slind, Ida Dahl, and Emilie Fleten leading the pack, a good sign of what was coming.
At Schluderbach, 21km into the race, a new lead group was formed, with only seven skiers in the front. And soon, at 8.8km to go, Astrid Øyre Slind increased the pace, with only Ida Dahl and Emilie Fleten following.
With 7.5km left, the leading trio was still together, with Øyre Slind pushing hard. Three kilometers later, 4.5km to the finish, a new lead was formed, now with only Astrid Øyre Slind and Emilie Fleten in the front, with Ida Dahl struggling, 13 seconds behind.
Close to the top of the climb and with 2.4km left to the race, Emilie Fleten took the lead and increased the pace, but Astrid Øyre Slind could hold it tight. At this point of the race, Ida Dahl was already 16 seconds behind the leaders.
In the end, in a close fight, Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, won the race, finishing 3.5 seconds in front of Emilie Fleten, Team Ramudden. Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, completed the podium in the 3rd position, 1:00.6 behind the winner.
Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge – Top 3 Women
- Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Aker Dæhlie, 1:55:52.6
- Emilie Fleten, Team Ramudden, +3.5
- Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, +1:00.6
Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge results can be found HERE.
SKI CLASSICS COMPETITIONS – CURRENT STANDINGS
After Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge, Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, and Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, lead the Champion bib competition. Ida Dahl is also carrying the Green bib of the Sprint competition, together with Alfred Buskqvist, Team Ramudden.
Ida Dahl, Team Engcon, and Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, carry the bib for the Climb competition. The Pink bib for the best Youth is resting on the shoulders of Karolina Hedenström, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Herman Paus, tied with Amund Riege, both from Team Ramudden.
The upcoming Ski Classics Pro Tour event is Engadin La Diagonela, a 55km race in Switzerland, on January 21, 2023.
More information about the Ski Classics Pro Tour you can find at skiclassics.com.
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Top Photo: Vanzetta/NordicFocus