42 km Classic: Norgren is back ... Nygaard ahead of Eliassen

Andreas Nygaard won ahead of his teammate Eliassen and Johansson - Britta J. Norgren is back on top of the podium, Gjeitnes second, Vlasova third

The 43rd Toblach-Cortina, stage of the Visma Ski Classics, took place today on a beautiful, sunny day. Two duos gave emotions in today’s 42 km race in classic. Andreas Nygaard won the race after a photo finish sprint against his teammate Petter Eliassen. Eliassen had led the race together with Morten Eide Pedersen. “I love the sun and the course. This year we had a fantastic grip with our poles, maybe thanks to the temperature”, said Nygaard, who studies medicine when he doesn’t train. “I’m very happy about my victory and about the team victory as well”.

Also the women’s race was decided after a photo finish, with Britta Johansson Norgren (SWE), who showed some difficulties in the last Visma Ski Classics races, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes (NOR), who won the Marcialonga last weekend, in first and second position respectively. Gjeitnes is a great sprinter but she didn’t manage to beat Norgren, who is happy to be back on top of the podium: “A great day, I love to compete in Italy, when the sun shines and the snow is hard. I felt very good today, I had some stomach problems in the last period but now I feel better. Kari is a great sprinter, but it’s fun when there’s a fight and you manage to win”, said her after the race. A 20-person group was leading the women’s race in the first 20 km. This proves that the Visma Ski Classics circuit is improving year after year on the women’s side too. The two main teams, Team Ragde Eiendom and Team Lager 157, are back on top of the podium, but Team Koteng is always present, in second position in the women’s race with Gjeitnes and in fifth position in the men’s race with Stian Hoelgaard, who is achieving great results and is in the fight for the overall title. Oskar Kardin finished 6th, while Tord Asle Gjerdalen, who won the Toblach-Cortina three times and who will be at the start tomorrow as well, finished 9th.

New faces on the podium: Marcus Johansson (Team Lager 157) and the Russian Anastasia Vlasova finished both third. A total of almost 2,500 participants over the weekend between Toblach and Cortina. The most important parts of the course are the Nordic Arena in Toblach, Lake of Toblach, viewpoint of the Three Peaks, Cimabanche Pass, the highest point of the course with the Ski Classics climb. This year there was a surprise: at the finish line in Cortina, the President of the organising committee Herbert Santer gave… a bull to the two winners! “Giovanni” and “Ferdinando”, the two bulls were depicted on a check and have been awarded to Norgren and Nygaard; the two winners still have to decide whether to keep them or not. Britta is perplexed: “I don’t know…I could take it home with me for my family!” Andreas has decided to sell it: “1,000 euros… 100 euros? No, too little, 800 is good!”

800 like the participants in the race in free technique: "It was not easy from a financial point of view after last season’s edition was cancelled", said President Herbert Santer, happy that all the cross-country skiers were present. “The Toblach-Cortina is growing, and I am convinced that one day we too will reach 5,000 competitors". On the Cortina side, vice-president Igor Gombac was very satisfied: "Beautiful day, lots of people. The collaboration between Toblach and Cortina is working, but it must be strengthened. We have a total of 160 volunteers. Everyone is already working also for tomorrow’s race, there was a boom in registrations at the very last moment". Tomorrow the 32 km skating will start from Toblach’s military airport (9.30 a.m.) and finish in Cortina, a new direction for the 43rd edition. At the start there will be also Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Antonella Confortola.