After extensive preparations and careful planning, the organizers of Toblach-Cortina are happy to announce that the event will proceed but with an updated course. The jury has decided to go for the plan B course for safety reason due to the expected extreme weather forecast with possible avalanche risk. The Plan B 36km course starts as planned at the airport in Toblach and goes through the sprint in Nordic Arena and the all the way up to the originally climb position at Cimabanche, but then it, instead of continuing to Cortina, turns back towards Toblach with the finish at the Nordic Arena in Toblach.
"For safety reasons the Jury has decided to change the course to Toblach-CImabanche-Toblach for Saturdays race." says the chairman of this weekends jury, TD Torbjörn Broks Pettersen from Norway.
A lot of artificial snow has been produced to ensure perfect conditions for Visma Ski Classics pro teams, and some natural snow has helped the organizers to groom great tracks for the two-day weekend. On Saturday morning, the classic race will start in Toblach. There is one sprint point at 4 kilometers and one climb competition point at 20 kilometers in this Visma Ski Classics event #6 and the final Visma Alp Trophy event of the season. The elite men start at 8:30 am CET followed by the elite women at 8:45 am CET. The amateurs start at 9 am CET.
Due to the different nature of Toblach-Cortina, a fast-paced race with a large lead group in tact is normally expected to happen where a sprint finish may be the most likely outcome, but the reported incoming snowfall can turn this around. Visma Ski Classics pro skiers have now three hard and challenging races behind them, two of them quite long as well, and the strains of back-to-back racing can be detected. To add some excitement in the mix, there are two strong work cup athletes fighting for the podium; Sergey Ustiugov and Aleksey Polteranin, the later representing Russian Marathon Team in Visma Ski Classics.
Petter Eliassen, Team BN Bank, showed in Marcialonga that he seems to be out of this planet and won the race with his superior performance. However, this course and the short distance may not work in his favor as he does not have much time and places to make his usual move and attack with full force.
Tord Asle Gjerdalen, last year’s winner, is naturally one of the strongest candidates to win the race as is his teammate Andreas Nygaard, last year’s second, but he fell sick after Marcialonga and returned to Norway for recovery. If he feels well, he will be standing on the start line on Saturday morning and will be hard to beat.
The usual suspects from Ilya Chernousov, ED System Bauer Team, and Oskar Kardin, Team Radge Eiendom, to Team BN Bank skiers and the grand-old-man Anders Aukland, Team ragde Eiendom, are the other favorites in this race. There is one person who could climb to the podium, and that is Tore Bjørseth Berdal, Team Koteng, who has performed extremely well throughout the season and he craves for greater success.
On the women’s side, there will be a tough fight for the podium places. Toblach-Cortina is often a race where a pack of women stays together to the finish line. There will be a battle between Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, Katerina Smutná, ED System Bauer Team, Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Radge Eiendom, but young skiers such as Sofie Elebro can do really well in a shorter distance. And Finland’s Heli Heiskanen, Vltava Fund Team, has always performed well in Toblach-Cortina.