• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
    • Haywood RACE Report: Alex Harvey 3rd in Tour de Ski Stage 6

      January 6, 2018

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      Alex Harvey is saving the best for last in this year's Tour de Ski. In past years he has been unable to start the final, mostly uphill stage of the Tour de Ski, due to blood circulation problems in his legs, but that has been solved through successful surgery. This year Alex starts the final stage in 4th place, 1 second from the podium, and looking fresher than many of his podium rivals.


      Temperatures were a bit above zero, and waxing wasn't simple as the skiers started the 15k classic mass start race.

      At the start of the race Alex was 4th in the overall Tour standings, 1:23 behind the leader Dario Cologna, 33 seconds behind Sergey Ustiugov of Russia and 16 seconds behind Martin Sundby of Norway. 3 seconds behind Alex was Alexander Bolshunov of Russia and 12 seconds back classic specialist Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan.

      With 1 more race to go, it was clear that some decisive action must be taken if Alex wanted to make a move on to the podium on the final day.

      The Russians set the early pace, with Alexey Chervotkin joining his 2 teammates at the front (yes Alex is a popular name among fast skiers...)

      06.01.2018, Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA): Alex Harvey (CAN) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, mass men, Val di Fiemme (ITA). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      Alex appeared to be shadowing Dario Cologna, always near the front of the pack but not taking the lead in the early stages. Alex seemed to have fantastic grip on the uphills, and a slight disadvantage on the downhills, a situation that maybe would allow him to conserve a bit of strength on the hilly course.

      The first bonus points section occurred on the 2nd lap and Ustiugov sprinted to get the 15 second bonus. Alex came through in 7th, picking up 4 bonus seconds.

      The 2nd bonus station was at 8.6, and once again Ustiugov captured maximum points, in a bid to make ground on Cologna the Tour Leader.  The Russian's move seemed to backfire though as he struggled for the rest of the race.

      06.01.2018, Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA): Dario Cologna (SUI), Sergey Ustiugov (RUS), Martin Johnsrud Sundby (NOR), Alex Harvey (CAN), Alexander Bolshunov (RUS), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, mass men, Val di Fiemme (ITA). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      Near the 10k point Alex began to set more of the pace at the front, with Dario Cologna and Alexey Poltoranin joining in. Another Russian, Andrey Larkov, also joined the top group that varied between 4 and 6 just a bit in front of a fairly large chasing group.

      With a kilometre to go it was a pack of 4 fighting for the podium, and on the final straight Poltoranin edged out in front, with Alex unable to hold off Larkov, for 2nd, as 1 second separated the podium positions. Cologna the Tour leader finished 4th about a second behind Alex.

      It was a good race for Alex.  He made up some good ground in the standings, passing Sundby and is now only 1 second back of Ustiugov in 4th. While Poltoranin moved ahead, he is not as strong a skater, which should be favourable for Alex on Sunday.

      Tour Standings

      The trio of challengers Ustiugov, Bolshunov and Sundby all seemed to be low on energy at the finish, so it will be interesting to see how their recovery programs will restore them for tomorrow's challenging climb.

      06.01.2018, Val di Fiemme, Italy (ITA): Andrey Larkov (RUS), Alexey Poltoranin (KAZ), Alex Harvey (CAN), (l-r) - FIS world cup cross-country, tour de ski, mass men, Val di Fiemme (ITA). www.nordicfocus.com. © Modica/NordicFocus.

      Alex Harvey: "The goal tomorrow will be to not work too much on the flats, but keep at it,” said Harvey. “I don’t want to save my energy as much as I can for the climb, and not get caught by the guys behind me. It’s not my best event but the guys around me are all in the same boat."

      Sunday's race starts with a flatter section for the first few kilometres before climbing the alpine hill of Alpe de Cermis.  If Alex can hold his form together for the final stage, he should be a definite contender for a podium position, and will have a chance of picking Poltoranin off for silver. But anything can happen on the steep uphill finish, with even the toughest skiers finding the challenge too great.

      Alex now moves into 4th on the overall World Cup standings, 1 point ahead of Martin Sundby of Norway.

      Earlier today Emily Nishikawa was 9th in a Scandinavian Cup skate race in Piteaa, Swden after finishing 21st in a sprint yesterday. Graeme Killick was 48th.

      Racing continues Monday from Mont Ste. Anne, Haywood NorAm and Olympic and World Junior/ U23 Championship trials.

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