—Ivan Babikov skis to 30th, Devon Kershaw places 31st in second last stage—
Alex Harvey … PHOTO CREDIT: Felgenhauer/NordicFocus
VAL DI FIEMME, Ita.— Alex Harvey was back to feeling good about himself and the sport he loves with a seventh-place finish in the second last stage of the Tour de Ski in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
One day after a disappointing 37th place finish, which dashed any hopes the 27-year-old had of contending for a podium position in the overall, Harvey arrived at a course he loves and turned in one of his best results of this year’s eight-race cross-country ski grind through Europe with a seventh-place finish in the men’s 15-kilometre classic-ski race.
“I was much better today and I am back to enjoying the sport today,” laughed Harvey, while recovering for the final stage on Sunday. “I was tired this morning for sure, but I’m happy to have the best stage of this year’s Tour. Every time I put a bib on I want to be in the top-10 with the ultimate goal of being on the podium. So anytime you are in the top-10 it is satisfying.”
Harvey charged his way around one of the most demanding courses in the world loaded with steep climbs and difficult flat sections in a time of 40:26.5.
“It was really tough conditions again today. The skis were fast. I went with slicker skis. The kick was on the limit going up the hills, but I was fast on the downhills,” said Harvey. “This stage of the race it is like a lottery with the body. The guys on the podium in the overall are the guys who can be stable the whole time. I had good skis but just no power in the body yesterday. Today, the body was totally different. It was not amazing today, but it was back to where I believe I belong.”
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby has certainly been winning the lottery. The leader of the Tour de Ski from day one captured top spot on the podium in the seventh stage with a time of 39:55.2. Niklas Dyrhaug, also of Norway was second at 40:02.9, while Alexey Poltoranin rounded out the podium in third with a time of 40:07.8.
It was a good day for the other two Canadian veterans in the field. Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., skied into the final spot in the top-30 with a time of 41:54.5. Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., finished just behind his Canadian mate in 31st at 41:59.7.
The punishing course on the spectacular Val di Fiemme track has been kind to Harvey and the Canadian squad over the years. Harvey has two of his Tour de Ski podiums in Val di Fiemme and also captured a bronze medal on the challenging course when it hosted the 2013 World Championships.
“The finish has been good here for me. I feel if I’m in a pack coming towards the finish line I am able to sneak around a couple of guys,” said Harvey. “Val di Fiemme is a hard course and has a bit of everything. It has hard uphills, but the flat sections are also tough. I feel on a good day I am a complete skier and Val di Fiemme demands you to be a complete skier.”
The eight-race Tour de Ski held over the last 10 days in Switzerland, Germany and Italy will wrap up on Sunday with the climb up Mount Cermis.
Top-Five and Canadian Results:
1. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 39:55.2; Niklas Dyrhaug, NOR, 40:02.9; 3. Alexey Poltoranin, KAZ, 40:07.8; 4. Francesco De Fabiani, ITA, 40:25.4; 5. Finn Haagen Krogh, NOR, 40:26.1
7. Alex Harvey, St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., 40:26.5; 30. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 41:54.5; 31 Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 41:59.7.