—Harvey posts second fastest time of the day, Devon Kershaw skis to 21st place, world’s best now travel west for final four stages in Alberta—
QUEBEC CITY—Alex Harvey wrapped up the opening four stages of the Ski Tour Canada in Quebec in fourth spot following a skate-ski pursuit race on Saturday.
One day after electrifying the hometown crowd with a silver medal performance in the Quebec City sprint races, the 27 year old completed the opening half of the inaugural eight-race Ski Tour of Canada by posting the second-fastest ski time at 34:24 in the pursuit race to hold his fourth-place position, and narrow the gap on the overall Tour leaders.
Harvey started the final Quebec race alone in fourth spot, nearly two minutes behind Tour leader Sergey Ustiugov based on the results of the opening three stages. When all was said and done, that is where the top Canuck finished after a 16-kilometre trip up the punishing climbs and fast descents on the Plains of Abraham.
“It was a good day. I wanted to treat it like an individual start, but to push the pace,” said Harvey. “I think it worked out perfectly. I skied with Sundby, who has been the best skier over the last three years, all day and most importantly I cut the time I am behind in the Tour in half.”
The Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que. resident drafted Sundby from midway through the first lap until the long finishing stretch where he passed the number-one ranked men’s skier for fourth spot. Harvey’s second fastest ski time of the day behind Sundby (34:08) led the Canadian to an overall time of 36 minutes, 21.6 seconds.
Russia’s Ustiugov had a 17 second lead heading into the fourth stage, and never gave an inch as 83 of the best Nordic skiers on the planet chased him for more than 30 minutes. Ustiugov put the hammer down to hold his lead on the field with a winning time of 34:31.8.
Norway’s Petter Northug struggled in the fourth stage, but held on to second spot with a time of 34:49.5. Emil Iversen, also of Norway, grabbed the final spot on the men’s podium with a time of 35:34.0.
Canada’s Devon Kershaw also had a solid outing, and will leave Quebec in 21st spot at 38:54.6. Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, Alta., held his position in 35th with a time of 40:24.9. Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., moved six spots up the standings into 49th (41:58.7).
Emily Nishikawa, of Whitehorse, was the top Canadian woman in the 10-kilometre pursuit race. Nishikawa placed 45th at 32:48.5. Cendrine Browne, of St-Jérôme, Que., was 49th at 33:20.7.
The Norwegian women put on another clinic Saturday. Heidi Weng and Therese Johaug duked it out around Quebec’s historic landmarks. Weng won the sprint finish with a time of 24:18.8. Johaug settled for second at 24:18.9. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen completed the Norwegian sweep of the podium with a time of 25:24.0.
Following the opening four races in Gatineau, Montreal and two in Quebec City, the Ski Tour Canada now travels west to Alberta for the final four races at the world-renowned Canmore Nordic Centre.
“These final four races are going to be absolutely brutal,” said Harvey. “Canmore is one of the toughest courses in the world and we are at altitude. Fatigue is setting in for everyone. We have a big travel day tomorrow so recovery over the next two days is going to be very important. I am in a good position, and looking forward to the next stage there.”
Top-5 Men and Canadian Results:
1. Sergey Ustiugov, RUS, 34:31.8; 2. Petter Northug, NOR, 34:49.5; 3. Emil Iversen, NOR, 35:34.0; 4. Alex Harvey, Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., CAN, 36:21.6; 5. Martin Johnsrud Sundby, NOR, 36:22.6
Canadian Results in Top-50:
21. Devon Kershaw, Sudbury, Ont., 38:54.6; 35. Ivan Babikov, Canmore, Alta., 40:24.9; 49. Graeme Killick, Fort McMurray, Alta., 41:58.7
For complete women’s and Canadian Results: http://bit.ly/1QVzj6E
Top-5 Women and Canadian Results:
1. Heidi Weng, NOR, 24:18.8; 2. Therese Johaug, NOR, 24:18.9; 3. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen, NOR, 25:24.0; 4. Maiken Caspersen Fall, NOR, 25:56.4; 5. Jessica Diggins, USA, 26:06.9
Canadian Results in Top-50:
45. Emily Nishikawa, Whitehorse, 32:48.5; 49. Cendrine Browne, St-Jérôme, Que., 33:20.7