The perfect sunshine of yesterday's Dolomiten Classic Race did not hold on for the 42km long Dolomitenlauf which was held in the skating technique, but a nevertheless perfectly prepared track awaited the participants of the 39th edition of the Dolomitenlauf. Normally held in the valley near Lienz, the race was, once again this year, rescheduled in Obertilliach due to earlier lack of snow. In Obertilliach, where the Biathlon Junior World Championships will be held from next week on, the conditions were different and the race could be held without any problems. The track layout was changed in comparison to last year to make the race even more attractive but also more challenging. After three victorious years, Fabio Santus (ITA) started the race to become the winner once more. However, this year it should be the year of his team mate Sergio Bonaldi. He attacked early and could hold on to his lead until the end. Behind him, Martin Bajcicak (SVK) became second, skiing also on his own for almost the whole race. The biggest fight of the race was fought for the third place. Once again, Petter Northug Jr., who entered the race just the night before, played his role very well and stayed behind for a long time only to attack hard in the last uphill to the finish. Known for his strength in the finish sprint, he left four further Italians – Pietro Piller Cottrer and Cristian Zorzi among them – and several other racers behind.
On the women's side, it was Olga Mikhailova (RUS) who did as Bonaldi: She attacked early and skied her way right into the finish and onto the highest podium place! Behind her, Tatjana Manimaa (EST), Antonella Confortola (ITA) and Monique Siegel (GER) were skiing together for most of the race but in the end, the Estonian had the most energy and left Confortolla and Siegel behind to take places 3 and 4.
At around 20km (half time of the race), it started to snow lightly, but the snowfall intensified during the last 20km and in the finish it was snowing heavily. A factor which played into the cards of some racers but for some it meant that the race got harder than expected.
After his victory in the first FIS Marathon Cup, the La Sgambeda (ITA), and his third place today, Petter Northug Jr. (NOR) is now leading the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 160 points. Martin Bajcicak (SVK) is now second with 139 points just in front of today's winner Sergio Bonaldi (ITA) with 116 points.
On the women's side, Tatjana Manimaa (EST), today's second placed lady, leads the cup with now 157 points in front of Olga Mikhailova (RUS, 145 points) and Seraina Boner (SUI, 140 points).
The complete result list from today's race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing:
Sergio Bonaldi (ITA):
It was a different track this year and it was a much harder course. I knew that this could be an advantage for me so I decided to go very hard already in the beginning and to attack on each uphill in order to get the others tired. About 30km before the finish, I thought I will give it a try and attack real hard to get away from the others. I knew it was a risk because it can be very tiring to do the whole course just by yourself, but in the end it worked out and I am very, very happy! I held the speed high the whole time and I gained some seconds during the whole time. To win this race with a Petter Northug starting as well is something special for me, that's for sure! It's a very prestigious victory!
Martin Bajcicak (SVK):
I know that I am strong in uphills so I tried to keep the high speed also in these parts of the track. I knew that it was risky but I gave it a try nevertheless. Sergio was just too strong today so I knew that there is normally no chance to catch him – I was only afraid that they group behind me would come too close so that they could catch me. It was clear, especially with Petter Northug in the group, that, if I would be caught by the group, I would not finish on the podium today. When I saw that Petter was on the start list I said “Well, that was that with a podium today”, so I am the more happy that it worked out nevertheless in the end!
Petter Northug Jr. (NOR):
It was a very good race for me. I could come here pretty quickly from my trainig camp in Seiser Alm, so I took the chance to participate. After a week of hard training in altitude my legs weren't the freshest but I had 42km to get into the race. For me, it was perfect that it started to snow. I didn't have perfect skis, so with the snowfall, I had a better chance to stay with the group I was in. I took this race as a preparation and I thought that the group I was in was fighting for 4th place. When I realised that it was about the podium, I pushed hard and counted on my finish sprint. It's always nice to be on the podium so I am happy with the outcome!
Olga Mikhailova (RUS):
I have never imagined that I would be able to win this race today. Only when I heard that the other girls were 3 minutes behind me I started to realise that I might be able to win if I hold on to my speed. I really have to thank my team and especially my wax technicians who prepared my skis just perfectly! Our team had 8 feeding stations so I never got dehydrated which helped me a lot to keep up the fast skiing throughout the race. I will now go to Sotchi and the Russian Championships but then I'll return to the FIS Marathon Cup and the König-Ludwig-Lauf.
Tatjana Manimaa (EST):
I arrived very late yesterday – or better to say early this morning – to be more precise, at 2am! I was sick last week with a stomach flue so I decided only at the very last moment that I will start in the Dolomitenlauf to test my form. I decided not to rush and during the ski testing I already realised that it will be a very hard day today. But somehow my feelings got better and better the longer I skied. I raced together with Antonella and Monique which was really nice. In the end I felt very good and I thought I just go for it. Monique dropped at around 3km before the finish and Antonella just 1km before. It's a great motivation to be back on the podium and it's an honour to wear the red leader bib of the overall FIS Marathon Cup! I really look forward to start the Marcialonga wearing the red bib!
Antonella Confortola (ITA):
Olga was just so strong today – we tried to catch her at first, I was even sprinting, but no chance. Then I skied together with Tatjana and Monique for most of the time. In the end, Tatjana had most energy left and went for second place. I am really happy that I could keep the third spot. I hoped for the podium, I knew that it wouldn't be an easy task, especially when it started snowing I got worried at first, but I had perfect skis so the snow wasn't too much of a problem! Now, I am looking forward to the Marcialonga!