For the 4th time, Blink Classics led the courageous athletes on the nowadays traditional 60km from Ålgård to Sandnes. Transcended by great landscapes and perfect weather, 140 elite athletes took the start cheered by an enthusiastic public.
During the first part of the race, a group of around 50 skiers was formed and was led by Olympic champion Iivo Niskanen. 8 kilometres later, the first sprint was taken by Emil Persson of team Lager 157 after a strong fight against Kasper Stadaas who crashed just before the line. A cruel start of the race for him as his bad fall obliged him to break the race. The young and talented Hedda Østberg Amundsen, crossed the line in the 4th positions with the men to take the first Guide World Classic Tour Sprint.
The other women impressively managed to keep up the pace with the men’s leading pack before to come across the first climb of the day.
The long way up to the second sprint has split up the leading group as Maurice Manificat from France raised the speed. A Mano a Mano from Kruger and Fossli from Norway started. But on their back, the patient Emil Persson waited to to take his second sprint on the very last meters, securing at the same time the green jersey of leader of Guide WCT Sprint.
On the women’s side, Hedda Østberg Amundsen took the sprint bib after passing in second position behind the dominating Astrid Øyre Slind who broke away from the rest of the women.
It’s only after half race, in the tough hill of Seldal, that the competition took another step when Erland Kvisle tried a break away, immediately followed by Iivo Niskanen and the last year Guide World Classic Tour winner Anders Mølmen Høst. Twelve men escaped in the front of the race including four Russians just before the highest point of the course. It’s at this exact point that Astrid Øyre Slind crossed the line alone in first position creating a large enough gap and hope for the final victory. But the race was not done yet, and 8 kilometres to the finish, as the skiers were entering onto the rollerski track, the chasing group reached the lead. No one was able to escape despite a lots of attacks. The final lap in Sandnes was probably the fastest we have ever seen in 4 years. Andrew Musgrave knew he had a good chance to sprint for victory, and attacked from the front of the pack to take his first yellow bib of the Guide World Classic Tour Champion. Norwegians Simen Hegstad Krüger and Morten Eide Pedersen took respectively the second and third place. Yet in an amazing race time, Astrid Øyre Slind came alone on the finish line. The defending champion managed to keep the leader bib ahead of Murud Thea Krokan, best youth of the day. Hedda Østberg Amundsen completes the podium.
Erland Kvilsle was elected Guide WCT Athletes of the Day for his great effort and very active role in the front of the race. He received a luxury watch from Certina.
The athletes will get a very short rest as tomorrow they will be at the start of the very first Lysebotn Opp double polling.
Read more about the overall ranking and leader bibs here: Standings 2019
Credit Photo : Axelar / Hans Lie / Erik Svein