The final stage of the COOP FIS Tour de Ski presented by Le Gruyère was traditionally facing the Final Climb up to Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme. The steep uphill climb along an Alpine course includes 1 lap in the stadium at Tesero before heading 4km to the bottom of the slope. The 400 m climb from the bottom of the hill to the Alpe Cermis include 3 steep climbs. Not only the fastest time of the day is tried to be reached – the athletes will also try to make up precious seconds for the Tour de Ski Overall standing. In the women’s start list, the Tour de Ski started off with 86 women. 46 starters were left to fact the climb up to Alpe Cermis.
After the first lap in the stadium, the head of the group was paced by Jessie Diggins (USA) and Heidi Weng (NOR) who both faced making up around 1.40 minute to the current leader Natalia Nepryaeva from Russia. On their heels was Ebba Andersson from Sweden, whose time gap was 1.12 minute before the last stage.
Upon arrival at the bottom of the Alpe Cermis Heidi Weng stuck herself on the heels of Ebba Andersson, who went into the leading position for the climb. The young Swede knew that she had to go all in to catch seconds and was hoping that Natalia Nepryaeva could be shaken off by the fast pace.
But Heidi Weng would not let go of Ebba and the duo chased up the slope. Around 100m before the finish line, Heidi Weng pulled out another gear and paced past Andersson towards the finish line: “I tried to get fast in the hill. Today was really hard because it was not easy snow today. It was an overall hard competition, but I tried to focus on the finish line and I tried to get that in my head. I had to follow Ebba but the last 100m was amazing for me,” stated Weng after crossing the finish line at Alpe Cermis 7 seconds before Andersson.
Delphine Claudel from France knew what awaits her on the prestigious climb. Racing from the 22nd position, the 25 year-old repeats her third rank from last year’s success again. In a striking climbing pace, the French distance skier even overtook Nepryaeva who follows in fourth place.
An outstanding Final Climb result was also achieved by the US Rookies Sophia Laukli and Novie Mc Cabe who end in the 5th – respectively 7th position with Krista Pärmäkoski from Finland in between.
THE TOUR DE SKI OVERALL STANDING
The catch-up race could still not come near the Overall Tour time of Natalia Nepryaeva who finished in 4th position with a gap of 32 seconds to Weng. The 26 year-old Russian still ends her Tour with a 46 seconds lead to Ebba Andersson and 1:07 minute lead to Heidi Weng.
Nepryaeva had a slow start into the Tour but found her rhythm and pace throughout the last stages.
Ebba Andersson was dealt as one of the top favourites for the Overall win. With finishing in second position, she states: “I am satisfied with my performance as there are many strong girls that I have competed against in this Tour and to be the second placed is for sure a victory for me. I was a little bit concerned and nervous before this competition but I feel more calm when it’s time to prepare for the Olympics now.”
With her strong performance on the Final Climb, Heidi Weng jumps on the podium from her previous 5th rank before the final stage. The 30 year-old completes the top-3 and ends her Tour de Ski with a gap of 1.07 minute to the winner Nepryaeva.
A very happy Johanna Hagström arrived at the Alpe Cermis after collecting top points for the victory of the Tour de Ski point standing. One point difference only separated her to Jessie Diggins, last year’s Overall Tour winner.