• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Haywood RACE Report: Kershaw Wins Toblach Sprints!

      January 5, 2011

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      The Haywood RACE Report is powered by Haywood Securities Inc. - a proud sponsor of the Senior National Cross Country Ski Team


      It was a cold, -11 degrees and sunny day in Toblach, Italy as the skiers skied the qualifying round of stage five of the Tour de Ski. The 1.3k course is tactical and not too demanding, which is welcomed by some, with a significant number of opportunities for passing on the course. 

      Devon Kershaw enters the race in 2nd overall, 45 seconds behind the leader Dario Cologna, who has made up his gap to Devon through gaining bonus seconds in the event.

      Alex Harvey and Devon Kershaw qualified comfortably, with Alex 8th, just ahead of Dario Cologna and Devon 14th, just over 2.5 seconds behind Bernard Tritscher from Austria, the top qualifier. Ivan Babikov finished 52nd and didn't qualify for the knockout rounds.

      To the advantage of the Canadians, three of the overall  top 10 didn't qualify for the knockout rounds; Bauer, Heikinnen and Chernousov. Chernousov was 10th after 4 stages and withdrew from the Tour along with 6 other skiers including Emil Joensson of Sweden.

      Qualifying Results:
      http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2011/CC/2579/2011CC2579RL.pdf

      Devon Kershaw was placed in the second heat, with Petter Northug and Nikolay Morilov of Russia the main contenders. Alex Harvey was in the 5th heat with Jesper Modin of Sweden and Martin Jaks of the Czech Republic as his key competitors. Andy Newell and Kris Freeman of the US continued their strong skiing and both qualified for heat three.

      Devon's quarterfinal start so the RussiansMorilov and Legkov take the lead from the start, skiing side by side to prevent the other racers from breaking through to the front. Petter Northug tried several attempts to break through with no success until the final 200 metre straightaway. Rounding the final corner Devon made a move to an open lane on the inside and a gap also opened for Northug to get through the Russian blockade. 

      It came down to a sprint to the finish for Northug and Kershaw and Devon captured the heat win with a lunge at the finish, as Northug had to settle for 2nd.

      Alex Harvey had a slowish start to his heat and moved gradually towards the front as the round progressed. On the final hill Alex pushed the pace to emerge in front on the final downhill but couldn't make a gap on the field. The final straight saw a sprint to the finish between Martin Jaks, Alex and Sweden's Jesper Modin. It was Jaks that finished first with a photo finish for Modin and Harvey 0.1 seconds behind. Unfortunately Harvey was just edged out at the line by Modin and missed qualifying for the next round. A disappointment for Alex but some extra rest for the 35km stage to follow tomorrow.

      In the semifinal Devon was once again a bit slow off the start as Oestensen for Norway led out. As the race progressed Devon moved up in the top 3, skiing just behind Marcus Hellner, who is presently just behind
      Devon in 3rd place on the tour.  On the final hill Northug surged ahead of Oestensen and was a bit ahead on the finishing straight. Devon tried to cut inside on the last turn but was blocked out by Oestensen and had to settle for 3rd. Fortunately for Devon the other semifinal saw Dario Cologna ski to a comfortable win in what was a slower heat, so both Devon and Hellner qualified for the final as "lucky losers".

      So the final includes the top 3 from the Tour, Cologna, Hellner and Kershaw along with Northug who presently sits in 7th. 

      Devon got off to his characteristic slow start as the Norwegians Northug and Oestensen took the lead with Marcus Hellner of Sweden.  Kershaw tucked in to 5th with Dario Cologna as the first half of the race unfolded. On the major climb, Devon saw an opportunity to move up on the outside and with a surge of pace moved out to the front and advantage he quickly capitalized on making a 10 metre gap over the pursuing Cologna and Northug. On the final straightaway Cologna managed to gradually make up the gap, but Devon was not content for a 3rd, second place finish on the Tour, and beat Cologna to the finish by a few centimetres. Northug finished 3rd, 1.2 seconds behind, with Hellner 4th.

      An awesome and deserved win for Devon, that gains him a few seconds on the overall leader Cologna in the overall standings, in second place. Northug's 3rd place result bumps him up to 4th and moves Alex back to 6th.

      Alex Harvey finished 14th in the sprint.

      Sprint Result:
      http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=CC&raceid=17519

      Tour Standings after 5 Stages:
      http://www.fis-ski.com/pdf/2011/CC/2580/2011CC2580TDS.pdf