Virpi Kuitunen (FIN) and Dario Cologna (SUI) are the queen and king of Cross-Country - they won today the Viessmann FIS Tour de Ski performance by Craft Sportswear 2008/09. Seven competitions in nine days in three countries - that was this year's edition of the Tour de Ski.
Today was on the schedule the famous Final Climb, the ladies raced 9 km from the ski stadium in Lago di Tesero to the Alpe Cermis. Virpi Kuitunen claimed victory in an extremely exciting and challenging race 7,2 seconds ahead of her team mate Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN). Petra Majdic (SLO) showed a great performance with finishing third, 34,5 seconds behind.
The race was a great and fair fight for the Tour de Ski victory. After several position changes, Kuitunen made her final attack and won the race.
The Tour de Ski Sprint ranking was already clear after the race yesterday, only the racers had to finish their competition today. Majdic took there the victory ahead of Arianna Follis (ITA) and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN).
The winner of the day (the fastest athlete) was Therese Johaug (NOR). She needed only 35:07.7 min for this challenging 9 km.
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen held her lead in the overall ranking with now 978 points. Kuitunen is now second with 907 points and third is Petra Majdic with 893 points.
In the men's race, Dario Cologna increased from the beginning on his lead of 34,1 seconds to in total 59,0 seconds. Petter Northug (NOR) was racing a great race and was the runner up behind Cologna. The third spot took Axel Teichmann (GER), 1:02.8 min behind the winner.
In the Sprint ranking, Tor Arne Hetland (NOR) took the victory ahead of Tour winner Dario Cologna (SUI) and Petter Northug (NOR).
The winner of the day was Ivan Babikov from Canada, who was able to finish the race in 33:51.2 min. Tom Reichelt (GER) was in this ranking the runner up, with only 1,5 seconds more race time.
Dario Cologna took also the lead in the overall World Cup ranking with 835 points.
Virpi Kuitunen (Winner of the Tour de Ski):
"The plan was to not give away any seconds before the up hill. I was a little bit unsure about my back, and I tried to skate as well as I can. When I saw that Saarinen and Majdic I new that they would catch me, and in the end I saw that Saarinen was a little bit tired and I new that it was the moment for me to attack for the victory. It is more feelings for me this year than it has been the previous years; I had to fight more to take this victory. I will now have one week off from training because of my leg, then I will ski the nationals and then the next goal is of course the World Championships"
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN, 2nd of the Tour de Ski):
"My goal was to do my own skiing and try to ski as relaxed as possible. At the moment I feel a little bit disappointed, I tried to beat Virpi but she was to strong and I am happy with my position it is the best ever for me in the Tour de Ski.
Petra Majdic (SLO, 3rd of the Tour de Ski):
"I am very happy with this 3rd place, my goal was to finish the climb and I am alive after today's race! I did not feel anything, I just tried to survive. I cached Saarinen in the uphill, I felt strong and I tried to attack but then I had a little hollow and could not hand on to her. Today my skating was really good and that is a surprise for me. For me it was not such a big surprise that I finished 1st in the Sprint Tour, I have won three sprint in the World Cup and I have improved my skating this year. I am satisfied with the start of this season, the World Champions is coming but I will not focus on that yet. Tonight I will just relax and do not think anymore of the Tour de Ski."
Dario Cologna (SUI):
"I felt very good today, I had a tough day yesterday. I could control the race from the 1st position. There were a lot of people from my hometown in Switzerland who cheered me up the hill. This has been a fantastic week and I am very happy. I will enjoy this evening with the whole team; we will have a small party. The team has worked very hard this week. Now it is important for me to take a break and recover. I will not go to Vancouver. The main goal for me so far in my athlete career will be the Olympics next year; I will fight for an Olympic medal"
Petter Northug (NOR):
"I started 4 s behind Rotchev and I tried to get in contact with him. Up the hill Rotchev was very strong so I followed him. I did not expect a 2nd place this morning, it was a tough race and I am happy that I finished as 2nd. It was good for me that I won the sprint in Nove Mesto to get 60 bonus seconds. I think I and Cologna will fight many times from now on. If I will change anything in the Tour that would be some more sprint races"
Alex Teichmann (GER):
"This has been a fantastic Tour de Ski, the best so far, great atmosphere, great audience and great races. I tried to go ahead so the others behind would not catch me. I had a great Tour de Ski start in Oberhof, and I am very satisfied with the result of the Tour. Tonight I will have a nice evening with the rest of the team here in Val di Fiemme. Then I will try to recover well at home and prepare for the next highlight the World Championships"
Tor Arne Hetland (NOR):
"My main goal this year was to win the sprint. I was sick this morning and my only goal was to climb up Alpe Cermis and finish the race so I would get the Tour Sprint. I will now recover and get healthy for the next World Cup and for the World Championships"
Vegard Ulvang (FIS):
"If Petter Northug who is a skating specialist end up 2nd in the Tour de Ski I think it is a good balance between skate and classic races. I hope we will have more nations on the Tour in the future. I am happy that we have improved the pictures going out on broadcast. There will always be different wishes from coaches and athletes regarding the Tour, and we will now summary and discuss these but I do not think that there will be any bigger changes in the Tour de Ski"
For complete results please visit www.fis-ski.com