The Sprint Race at Asiago is today, but competitors are looking ahead to Saturday's and Sunday's events in Val di Fiemme, espeically this final brutal uphill on the very last day of the Tour de Ski.
Tour de Ski fathers Vegard Ulvang and Jürg Capol skied today the final Alpe Cermis uphill to be conquered by the athletes on Sunday. So did many athletes.
“We are tired here and ordering some pizza at the moment” said Capol. “I am happy to see that the snow situation is perfect in Val di Fiemme as far as the competition goes. The courses are very well prepared. Outside courses we have no snow.”
Ulvang adds that “the 3,75km course to be used on Saturday during the mass start competitions is the best ever we have seen in Val di Fiemme. It's great for mass start, where we have good climbs and not so many curves. Very nice!”Capol continues: “The connection from the Val di Fiemme ski stadium to the Alpe Cermis is also well prepared. It's going along the famous Marcialonga ski marathon course and is about 4-5m wide and around 4km long.”
On the final day of the Tour ladies ski some 2km on Val di Fiemme courses and men do 3 laps on 2,5km course before heading towards the final climb. When speaking about today's impressions from the final uphill of the Tour de Ski, Capol says that “overall the course is 30m wide since it is an alpine skiing slope. The first 40% of the uphill is good. Then comes steeper part, where we will make some 6-7 serpentines and leave some parts open for the athletes to decide, how they are going to ski it – straight up or using switchbacks. The last 20% is good again. When we can get the good grooming, I'm sure it will be OK!”
Ulvang adds that “this uphill was a little more extreme than we expected. When we estimate that the total climb will last some 15 – 20 minutes, then 7-8 min of that will be on the steeper parts. We have heard that using skins have been discussed among athletes as tactical plans how to move up faster. In any case we are ready for the test and stay open for any recommendations about the future.”
Ulvang and Capol were not the only one's that checked out the last uphill. So did many athletes, among them Tobias Angerer (GER), the Overall Tour leader. First they drove up the hill by car, and then skied. “These 400 meters of height difference are definitely something but I was not especially shocked. We knew that this was going to be on Alpine slope so something like that was going to be expected. To prepare for such conditions, we have already trained on something similar in Tauplitzalm.”
Before getting to the ultimate climb, we will have sprint competitions in Asiago tomorrow and mass start events in classical technique on Saturday.