Followed by last weekends success at La Diagonela, Team Koteng took home another double victory at Marcialonga. Tore Bjørseth Berdal and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes are both first time winners of the prestigious 70 km race in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
Marcialonga was the sixth Visma Ski Classics event of Season X and the fourth in Visma Alp Trophy out of five. The decisive moment of the winners was as many times before in the last hill "the Cascata" at the end of the race.
In the men’s race, things started to happen early on when Bob Impola, Team Serneke and Joar Thele, Team Ragde Eiendom, increased the tempo. At the turning point in Canazei Oskar Kardin, Team Ragde Eiendom, was first together with Øyvind Moen Fjeld, Lager 157 Ski Team, Bob Impola, Team Serneke, Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet and Joar Thele had a gap of 30 seconds to the chasing group. But they were caught up with 40 km left of the race and then it was a really big group together towards the sprint in Predazzo after 46 km of the race.
Max Novak crossed the sprint line first in Predazzo just ahead of Stian Berg and Nikita Kriukov, the former gold medalist in sprint at both Olympics and World championships. After that, the big group continued at a more or less moderate pace.
Andreas Nygaard, Team Ragde Eiendom, made a move with 11 km to go and got a small gap together with Runar Skaug Mathiesen, Team Parkettparner Sjujøen, but they were caught up pretty soon and there was a really big group going into the Cascata hill.
Nyagaard, was the first one reaching the bottom of the Cascata together with his teammates, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Petter Eliassen. Among them was also Tore Bjørseth Berdal from Team Koteng. After a thrilling fight for positions up the hill, Bjørseth Berdal was the strongest man in the end winning 1,5 seconds ahead of Gjedalen and Eliassen on third place 2,7 second behind.
“It´s amazing. I newer believed this actually. I have not had a good feeling at all this season and did not manage to train much in December since I did not feel well. But today everything clicked, I had perfect skis and my body felt amazing. It's Crazy, I almost won here two years ago, so I had some revenge to do. This was overall an amazing day for the team.” Said Tore Bjørseth Berdal at the finish interview.
“Tore was just faster than us. Petter was going really strong and I had problems just to stay on his back,” said runner up Gjerdalen after finish.
In the women's race, Korsgren, Slind, Gjeitnes, and Katerina Smutna stayed in the men's chasing group after being passed by the leading men. Smutna soon couldn't follow the other three. At Predazzo the trio was 45 seconds behind the leading men with a gap of more than 2 minutes to Smutna and Emilie Fleten, Team Ragde Eiendom.
When the women reached the bottom of the Cascata hill Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden, was in the lead followed by Team Kotengs Astrid Øyre Slind and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes. Korsgren couldn't keep the same pace and in the end, Vikhagen Gjeitnes was the strongest winning 7 seconds ahead of Slind. Korsgren was 57 seconds behind in third place.
“This has been a dream for me and it is unbelievable it comes true. We had really good skis today and could ski among the boys and that helped us a lot. I was a bit tired around Predazzo but then I felt better again and in the uphill, I felt really good." Said Vikhagen Gjeitnes after her first-ever victory in Visma Ski Classics.
New leader in the Hertz Champion bib competition after Marcialonga is Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team Ragde Eiendom, and in the women's class Astrid Øyre Slind extended her lead. Both of them are also on top of the Visma Alp Trophy competition.
Stian Berg, Team Kaffebryggeriet is still in lead of the men's Sprint competition but Øyre Slind passed Britta Johansson Norgren on the women's side. Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team and Ida Dahl, Team Ramudden keeps their lead the Youth competition. Øyre Slind and Morten Eide Pedersen are leading the Climb competition. Team Koteng is the new leader of the Pro Team competition 105 points ahead of Lager 157 Ski Team.
The next event in Season X is Toblach-Cortina, 42 km classic, in Toblach-Cortina, Italy, on February 1, 2020.