Alexei Poltoranin of Kazakhstan has gotten stronger and stronger as the Tour de Ski has gone on, and after picking up a convincing prologue victory yesterday won an exciting sprint finish in the 15 k classic mass start in Val di Fiemme, Italy today. The win gained him enough bonus seconds to move up into fifth place in the overall Tour standings.
While Tobias Angerer of Germany and Alexander Legkov of Russia tangled a bit in the lanes at the finish, it was Lenny Valjas of Canada sneaking through on the outside to take second while teammate Alex Harvey edged Italian ageless wonder Giorgio di Centa for third by the slimmest of margins.
Perhaps the most notable development in the race however was that after making a sprint for the first round of bonus seconds just 1.8 k into the race, Petter Northug of Norway struggled to remain in contact with the group, slipping back through the field and ultimately finishing almost 30 seconds back.
Ivan Babikov was 8th and Devon Kershaw 21st for Canada, and all four of the Canadian men now sit in the top 20 of the overall Tour.
For the Americans, only Noah Hoffman and Kris Freeman are left, and they finished 32nd and 40th in the mass start.