By Teemu Virtanen
This weekend’s La Diagonela brought us a lot action and drama on the course with tactical maneuvers, dramatic crashes and amazing breakaways. One of the orchestrators of those breakaways was Team Ragde Eiendom’s Petter Eliassen, who used kick wax and diagonal striding when climbing up towards the highest point on the course and only Chris Andre Jespersen, Team Koteng, was able to follow him. Chris won the race while Petter ran out of juice and finished far behind.
Many of us pondered about Petter’s decision to go with kick wax as La Diagonela isn’t really a course where our Pro Team Athletes usually consider using grip under their skis. Even most women decided to go double-poling. So, what prompted Petter to do such a thing? Let’s ask him.
What was the reason for your choice to go with kick wax?
”My reason was that I wanted to try kick wax in this kind of race to see how it would work out.”
What was your tactic in the race?
”My tactic was to try to get a good position in the hills that start from when we crossed over the railway tracks in Celerina. And then try to use the kick as an advantage.”
You got really tired towards the end. Was it due to your sickness that you had just recovered from?
” Yes, I think it was mainly because I had been sick and lost some shape. But maybe the kick wax made me slower on the flats as well.”
What was the key learning from your experience that brought you the “Visma Skier of the Day” award?
”My learning was that it was fun to use the kick again, but when I got tired it was not so fun because I could not use it properly and it took away some speed on the flats as well. But I’m very happy to become the Skier of the day!”
Marcialonga is next, and last year you won the race due to your superior performance. How are you getting ready for the race after La Diagonela?
”Marcialonga last year was one of my best experiences ever on a ski track. Now I need to recover from La Diagonela and then try to get in better shape and do my best on Sunday.”
Petter Northug & Dario Cologna are also going to race - what do you think they can bring into the race?
”I think Dario can win for sure if he has a good day. Petter Northug can for sure hang on for some kilometers, but I don't know how much he has prepared for it.”
What is your goal for the rest of the season as the Yellow bib may have escaped from your reach?
”My goal was to fight for the yellow bib, but now it seems very difficult. I would still try to race all the remaining stages and do as well as I can.”