Virpi Kuitunen from Finland and the Tour de Ski Winner Lukas Bauer won the Interval start race over 10 km (ladies) and 15 km (men) in the classical technique in Lahti.
Virpi Kuitunen claimed victory in front of her home crowd, 4,7 seconds ahead of Valentina Shevchenko from Ukraine. The third place on the tough 4 x 2,5 km loops took surprisingly the German Katrin Zeller, she finished just 5,6 seconds behind Kuitunen.
The women's race was very close, the first nine athletes finished within 19,1 seconds. For Kuitunen it was the fourth victory in this season. Valentina Shevchenko managed her second podium in this season after being first in Canmore (CAN) in January. For the 29-year-old Katrin Zeller it was the first podium in a single competition ever in her career, her best place until today was an 8th place in 15 km mass start race in free technique.
In the overall ranking, Virpi Kuitunen is coming closer to her overall World Cup victory. She is now 139 points ahead of Astrid Jacobsen, who took today the 6th place. Charlotte Kalla (SWE) is 262 points behind the leader.
In the distance World Cup, Astrid Jacobsen is still in the lead with 572 points. On second place follows Valentina Shevchenko with 507 points. Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) is third ranked with 501 points.
In the men's race, Lukas Bauer from Czech Republic was again unbeatable. He finished in an exciting race over 6 x 2,5 km, 20,6 seconds ahead of his friend René Sommerfeldt (GER). Third ranked was Sergey Cherepanov (KAZ), finishing 26,5 seconds behind the winner.
Bauer made his fifth victory in this season and the seventh podium place while René Sommerfeldt finished for the third time second in this season. The surprisingly third ranked Cherepanov reached the first time the podium, until today his best place was 18th in Cogne 2006.
Lukas Bauer is now 428 points ahead of Sommerfeldt in the overall World Cup rankings, there is still a theoretical chance to get beaten in the overall ranking due to the fact that 500 points can be win in the last World Cup races. On third position is Tor Arne Hetland, 541 points behind Bauer.
Also the distance World Cup is not decided, Bauer is leading there with 746 points. On second place follows René Sommerfeldt with 448 points. Valerio Checchi (ITA) is third ranked with 384 points.
The next World Cup competitions are scheduled for Wednesday, 5th in Drammen – classical sprint.
Virpi Kuitunen (FIN): I'm very happy with my victory in front of my home crowd. It was a tough race but a good one. I had also very good ski's. Last year I won the sprint here in Lahti and this year the classical race – that is great. Now I'm looking forward to the race in Drammen – Oslo will be difficult because it is in free technique this year but I will gave my best.
Valentina Shevchenko (UKR): I'm very satisfied with my race and my second place. I had really fast ski's and would like to say thank you to the technicians. I like the race in Holmenkollen and I hope I will be back there on the podium.
Katrin Zeller (GER): It is awesome – I can't believe it. I'm really, really happy. I'm now 29 year's old and ski since two years in the World Cup races regularly. It is my first podium place and I hope I can conserve this shape for the races in Bormio, that will be my next races.
Lukas Bauer (CZE): I was pushing hard from the beginning. At the first intermediate points I got the information that I'm in front and that pushed me again. I will skip out the races in Drammen and try my best to be on the podium in Oslo – the Holmenkollen race is always something special.
Rene Sommerfeldt (GER): I would like to reach a place under the top ten and I made it – that makes me really happy. Lukas Bauer is at the moment unbeatable but that is okay – he is the best at the moment! My ski's were great, it was our weather and the technicians did a great job.
Sergey Cherepanov (KAZ): Unbelievable – I'm so happy. Last week I was at the U23 World Championships and I got 4th but the today's 3rd place is better (smile). I didn't expect such a good race from me, I was really surprised in the finish about my result.