By Teemu Virtanen
La Venosta In Italy, the brand new race in the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour for Season X, took place today in wintery conditions. Russian Winter Team’s Ermil Vokuev and Team Koteng’s Astrid Øyre Slind were victorious in the race as the former won the men’s race over Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, and the latter dominated the women’s race by leaving Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, more than three minutes behind.
The men’s race started at 8:30 in the morning, and there was no decisive action besides one short breakaway attempt by Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Kaffebryggeriet, and Max Novak, Team Ramudden, on the first full lap. On the final lap, Petter Eliassen increased the pace before reaching the highest point on the course, and only Vokuev and Novak were able to follow. The Russian Pro Skier was stronger in the final short climb to the finish leaving Eliassen almost three seconds behind. Novak was caught up by the chasing group, and Pedersen managed to take the last place on the podium.
“When Eliassen started to push hard on the last climb, I just tried to hang on,” Vokuev said at the finish. “I felt really strong when approaching the finish line, and I was able to win this race. This means a lot to our new team, and it was important to for us to do well here. I’m planning to do all the Visma Ski Classics races and Kaiser Maximilian Lauf is next!”
In the women’s race, which started at 10:15 am, Øyre Slind broke away from the lead group after the first short lap and left everyone behind including Johansson Norgren who tried to catch her rival but quickly realized that it was impossible. The real fight materialized between three skiers following Øyre Slind and Johansson Norgren; Kateriná Smutna, ED System Bauer Team, Emile Fleten, Team Ragde Eiendom, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Koteng. Of these three athletes, Vikhagen Gjeitnes was tactically most savvy and saved her energy to the end. She was able to speed up just before finish and a got a gap over her opponents.
“I didn’t expect or plan to do a breakaway this early on,” Øyre Slind admitted. “But I saw an opportunity when the first long climb started as Britta was a bit stuck and I decided to attack. I hope this is a sign of things to come, and I will certainly challenge Britta for the Yellow bib. I’m now going home to train with my sisters who are also in good shape and get ready for Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, which is a race that suits me well.”
Johansson Norgren and Pedersen are now the Hertz Champion and Visma Alp Trophy competition leaders, and the latter also leads the Climb competition while Øyre Slind took the lead in that category after today’s race. She was also awarded with the Visma Skier of the Day trophy for her superior performance. As there were no sprint check points in the race, both Johansson Norgren and Novak hold on to the green bibs over the holiday break while the Youth competitions are now led by Anastasia Rygalina, Russian Winter Team, and Emil Persson, Lager 157 Ski Team. Lager 157 Ski Team leads the Pro Team competition by 10 points over Team Koteng.
The next event in Season X is Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, 60 km classic, in Seefeld, Austria, on January 11, 2020. The La Venosta results can be found here.