KATERINA SMUTNA AND MORTEN EIDE PEDERSEN TRIUMPH IN JIZERSKA PADESATKA
Tord Asle Gjerdalen, Team Santander, was knocked off his usual perch as Team BN Bank’s Morten Eide Pedersen and Petter Eliassen. Team LeasePlan, broke away in the long uphill about 19 km before the finish and left the struggling yellow bib holder behind. Those two kept their high pace to the end, and Pedersen repeated his 2015 feat and won the race just ahead of Eliassen. Gjerdalen managed to take the last podium place due to the assistance of Anders Aukland who helped his fellow teammate after the breakaway. Gjerdalen admitted having a strange feeling of lactic acid in his muscles while the two skiers ahead of him said that they felt strong all the way.
”I had a good day today,” the extremely happy winner Morten Eide Pedersen claimed after the race. ”I saved some energy in the beginning and wanted to make sure that I have enough power in the long climb where Eliassen did his breakaway. I just tried to keep up with him and once we got the gap, we worked well together ensuring that the chasing group couldn’t catch us. It was about time that we pushed Gjerdalen away from the top podium place! After this, I’m getting ready for Vasaloppet and I feel that I’m in good shape right now and I’ve done all I needed to be on the podium in Sweden.”
In the women’s race, it was a familiar scenario again where Team Santander’s Katerina Smutná, Lager 157 Ski Team’s Britta Johansson Norgren and Team United Bakeries’ Astrid Øyre Slind broke away quite early in the race and kept a pace of their own to the finish. A few kilometers before the finish, Øyre Slind had to give in when Smutná and Johansson Norgren sped up in the final downhill section. On the last hill about three kilometers before the finish, Smutná increased her double-poling frequency and slid away from Johansson Norgren. This is her fifth win in a row in Visma Ski Classics this season making her second to none in terms of the number of consecutive victories in the long distance ski world championship.
”I felt really strong in my double-poling,” the always smiling Smutná admitted. ”I hope that I can keep this up come Vasaloppet in two weeks. This was a tough race as we expected, but I did what I had planned beforehand and it worked out perfectly. Now, I have some time before Vasaloppet where Britta will be tough to beat. It’s her home soil and she really wants to win that race.”
Pedersen’s victory pushed him up on the overall list to second place as Team Santander’s Andreas Nygaard did not race today. Stian Hoelgaard, who was ninth today, is currently in third place, but he is being chased by the aforementioned Nygaard and Eliassen. In the women’s battle for the yellow jersey, Norgren is only 15 points ahead of Smutná, while Slind is third and holds a 28-point advantage over Sara Lindborg of Team Serneke, who was fourth in today’s race.
In the remaining categories, no changes took place as Nygaard and Johansson Norgren continue to lead the sprint competitions while the pink bibs are still being held by Svenja Hoelzle, Team Synnfjell, and Stian Hoelgaard. Team Santander remains the undisputed number one team of Visma Ski Classics Season VII.
The next stop in the tour is the legendary Vasaloppet, 90 km, on March 5. Jizerska Padesatka was the last event in Central-Europe as the rest of the races will take place in Northern Europe. Visma Ski Classics Season VII will end in Finland on April 8 when Ylläs-Levi presents itself as a new race in the tour and a fresh location for the finale.
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