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Virpi Kuitunen in the lead

Tour de Ski

Sun, Jan  4, 2009 - By FIS

Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) claimed victory in the Mass start race over 10 km in the classical technique in Val di Fiemme (ITA).

She won the race in a time of 30:10.1min, clearly 13,8 seconds ahead of Petra Majdic (SLO). The third spot took Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), 20,5 seconds behind her team mate Kuitunen.

It was an exciting race with an early and tremendous attack from Virpi Kuitunen at about km 1, she led the rest of the loop and won the first 15 bonus seconds at the 3,3 km. Second there was Majdic and third Saarinen. In the second lap, Kuitunen lost the lead to Petra Majdic, who had perfect skis today. Majdic took also the 15 bonus seconds at the 6,6 km intermediate sprint. Kuitunen earned 10 and Saarinen 5. Back out of the stadium, Kuitunen attacked again Majdic, passed her, and won the race.

In total, Kuitunen won 40 bonus seconds in the today's race and is now in the lead of the overall Tour de Ski standing with an advantage of 31,7 seconds to her team mate Aino Kaisa Saarinen. On third place so far is Petra Majdic, 49,1 seconds behind Kuitunen. Marit Bjoergen lost with her today's 5th rank and is now fourth with already a gap of 1:36.2min to Kuitunen.

In the Tour Sprint ranking, Majdic took over the lead from Arianna Follis (ITA) with an advantage of 18 seconds to Follis, on third spot is Aino-Kaisa Saarinen with 25 seconds disadvantage to Majdic. As tomorrow no sonus seconds will be awarded. Petra Majdic will win this standing if she is finishing the tomorrow's race.

Tomorrow the final stage of the Tour de Ski will take place in Val di Fiemme with the famous Final Climb up to the Alpe Cermis. The race will start for the women's at 13.00 and will be held in free technique.


Virpi Kuitunen (FIN, stage winner & Tour leader):

"The tactic was to start with full speed. In the 2nd lap I had some problems with my back and I decided to only fight for the victory and not for the bonus seconds. I will have some massage today, I was kind of surprised of the back today, the track was great and I usually do not get problem in classic."

Petra Majdic (SLO, Tour Sprint leader):

"I felt totally blessed today, when I took of my glasses before the start, my team mates could see that I did not feel very well today. I normally need to start slower, but I survived the first lap. I had super good skis. In the last lap I started a little bit slow and Virpi was strong today. For tomorrow I will try to survive and climb up the hill. I hope I will smile in the finish tomorrow. I have a much better Tour de Ski this year, the first year everything was new and last year I lost it in the beginning. This year I try to focus on race by race."

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