—Harvey finishes Tour 12th overall, Ivan Babikov 30th and Devon Kershaw 34th—
VAL DI FIEMME, Ita.—Alex Harvey reached the top of Mount Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy in 12th spot overall after finishing 14th in the final and must punishing stage of the Tour de Ski.
The 27-year-old Harvey was competing in the final stage of the eight-race Tour through Europe for the first time in four years thanks to surgery this summer to correct circulation issues in his leg that prevented him from skate skiing up steep hills. The final stage is a nine-kilometre skate-ski pursuit race with the final three kilometres straight up Alpe Cermis which boasts a 28 per cent hill grade.
“I’m going to be happy with the day. It was my best climb by far. I didn’t fully remember it from before and I think I went out a bit too conservative. Both my legs were working really well so I’m really happy with the day,” said Harvey.
Starting time-behind-the-leaders based on results of the opening seven stages, the St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que. resident dug deep and took the final stage head on – a race that throws tactics out the window – forcing man against hill. Harvey finished 14th on the day at 37:44.3
“The hill is not that long, but it has three really steep pitches that have you breathing has hard as you can and your legs are super tired,” added Harvey. “You are just hacking it up the hill. You can’t find a technique that is appropriate for the terrain and it is just a really unusual feeling. The only way to describe it is it like going up a hill on your bike in the hardest gear and you are not allowed to switch gears. When you get to the finish line it is definitely a relief.”
One of the fastest skiers on the unique final stage each of the 10 years the world’s best have been left sprawled out on the ground around the finish line at the top of the mountain, Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., finished the stage in 29th spot at 43:29.2. Babikov posted the 11th fastest time from start line to finish line on the day. Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 32nd with a time of 44:34.7.
Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby led the 10th edition of the Tour de Ski wire-to-wire. Sundby was crowned the king of cross-country skiing after crossing the finish line first at the top of the mountain with a time of 30:47.0. Sundby’s teammate, Finn Haagen Krogh, was second in the eighth stage with a time of 34:02.7. Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov prevented a Norwegian sweep of the podium by locking up third place on the day with a time of 34:30.8.
Only 55 of the 100 best cross-country skiers on the planet who started successfully finished the ultimate test in high-performance sport that witnessed athletes skiing more than 100-kilometres in eight races at four venues in Switzerland, Germany and Italy over the last 10 days.
Sundby won the 10th edition of the prestigious Nordic event by nearly three minutes with a total time of 3:16:31.2. Petter Northug, of Norway, was second at 3:19:22.7, while Alexey Poltoranin, of Kazakhstan, was third with a time of 3:19:24.2.
Never able to get on the podium in this edition of the Tour, Alex Harvey was the top Canadian in 12th spot at 3:22:21.1. Ivan Babikov placed 30th overall at 3:28:34.3, while Devon Kershaw was 34th (3:29:02.5).
“It is a hard 10 days of racing and you for sure feel like you accomplished something when it is done,” added Harvey. “It is the same feeling for everyone, but I think there are likely five guys that are happy when it is done and the rest are wishing for more. I’m extremely disappointed with the Tour overall this year. I had a couple of good days, but I raced below my expectations.”
Harvey, Kershaw and Babikov will now take two weeks of rest before rejoining the World Cup in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic.