By Teemu Virtanen
The 5th stage of the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour takes place tomorrow when La Diagonela kicks off in the morning. The 62 km mass start race starts at 9:15 am CET with the women's race followed by the men’s start at 9:30 am CET.
The length, high altitude and tough climbs at the end of the course make the race a challenge for all participants. The course has no climb points, but there are two sprint competition points; the first one at 16 km in Samedan and the second one at 41 km at the Engadin airfield. Additionally, there will be a special sprint point in St. Moritz arranged by the organizers of the race awarding CHF 5,000 to be distributed among both genders’ winners.
In order to increase interest in cross-country skiing La Diagonela also invites all young people of the Generation Z to participate free of charge at any of their four skiing events.
Last weekend’s winners Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden, and Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team, have both fallen ill and thus unable to race tomorrow, and Team Ramudden’s Jenny Larsson feels a bit under the weather and decided not to race. The winner of La Venosta, Ermil Vokuev, Russian Winter Team, is not racing tomorrow.
Team Ragde Eiendom athletes Petter Eliassen and Anders Aukland are returning to the field and are both strong favorites as are their last year’s podium teammates Andreas Nygaard, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Oskar Kardin.
“It was great to be back on the podium again at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf,” Nygaard stated while getting ready for the race a day before. “I performed poorly in the early races last year as well and then peaked and managed to win the Champion title. So, the game is on for the yellow bib. I think the last 10 km will be decisive as that section is a bit of up and down, and then we have the long climb to the finish. I felt pretty confident this morning, but now after our interval training I’m not so sure since Petter Eliassen killed us all.”
In the women’s race, Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, will again face her dear opponent Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, who is ready for any possible attacks.
“Last weekend, Lina was really strong and when she attacked, I was out and couldn’t follow her,” Astrid admitted today. “She is not racing tomorrow, and I expect to have a fast-paced race when the guys pass us. We are used to the fact that our races get new dynamics when the lead group of men reaches us. I just need to find a good pace then.”
Britta seemed to on the same page with Astrid and said that she wasn’t really surprised by Lina’s attack at Kaiser Maximilian Lauf. Much like Astrid, she expected the race to change its course when the men pass them, but she said that she is ready for it.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast predicts light snow, precipitation 4,4 mm, a temperature about -7 C, light wind about 1 m/s from north-northwest.
LOCATION: Zuoz, Switzerland
DATE: 18th January 2020
START TIME: Women: 09:15 CET, Men: 09:30 CET
DISTANCE: 62 km Classic Technique
VISMA SKI CLASSICS SPRINTS: 2 sprints (16 km & 41 km)
VISMA SKI CLASSICS CLIMBS: 0 climbs