By Teemu Virtanen
The Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour continues tomorrow when the brand new race La Venosta takes place in Italy. The 34 km mass start race sets in motion at 8:30 am CET with the men’s race followed by the women’s race at 10:15 am CET. These two starts are only open for the Visma Ski Classics Pro Skiers. The recreational race commences at 12:00 pm CET.
The course has four laps of which the first one is 5,5 km and the remaining three laps are 9,5 km. The highest point, 1970 m, of the course is Melago Alm, and the skiers need to climb there four times during the race. That peak also serves as the Climb competition point at 12 km and 22 km. There are no sprint points in the race. The course is very challenging due to high altitude, technical downhill sections and long climbs.
The Livigno Prologue podium skiers are strong favorites tomorrow since the course bears similarities to that race and the elevation is almost the same. Emil Persson and Britta Johansson Norgren, both from Lager 157 Ski Team, won the races in Livigno two weeks ago.
Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Kaffebryggeriet, was second in the men’s race and Stian Hoelgaard, Team Koteng, third. In the women’s race Katerina Smutná, ED System Bauer Team, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Koteng, conquered the podium places respectively behind Johansson Norgen. In the women’s race, Team Robinson Trentino’s Justyna Kowalczyk, three-time Birkebeinerrennet winner, is going to do her season debut.
You can read a more profound analysis on potential winners and podium skiers in our yesterday's article. But it seems that everyone has high hopes for Pedersen and Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, and expect them to break away early on. In the women's race, it is most likely Johansson Norgren against Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, and even the former seems to think that the latter is her greatest rival tomorrow. Pedersen is ready for the hard fight and assumes that the speed will be high from the beginning.
"I'm happy to hear that people consider me a favorite," Pedersen said at the TV interview session this afternoon. "But I'm not feeling any pressure. I'm shooting for the yellow bib this season, but I'm also trying to get as many climb points as possible. The climb on this course is somewhat similar to the one at Jizerska Padesatka, which suits me well. It will be a high pace race tomorrow. Livigno was a good start for the season and now I just have to make sure that no one can pass me at the end."
The weather forecast predicts some snow in the morning, precipitation 3,7 mm, light breeze from north-northeast and a cold temperature around -11 C.