After last year"s heavy snowfall, it was now the perfect sunshine which welcomed the racers in Bedrichov for the 46th edition of the Jizerská Padesatka 50km CT race. Almost 4500 racers took the start while the sun was rising. Among them, several of the best distance World Cup skiers: Lukas Bauer (CZE), the local hero, Eldar Roenning (NOR), Johan Kjoelstad (NOR) and Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN). Vibeke Skofterud (NOR), winner of the famous Vasaloppet last year in a new record time, announced still on Friday, that she would once more fight for a record time - this time in the Jizerská, but finally she didn"t start. Nevertheless, the race announced to be very interesting.
Lukas Bauer attacked straight away on the perfectly prepared tracks and got a big gap between him and his followers already at a very early stage. Only Anders Aukland could catch him after around 15km and the two went on together, trying to keep the others as far behind as possible. In the end, the older one of the two Aukland brothers played out his experience and his very efficient double poling to pass the finish line first. Simen Oestensen (NOR) was long time believed to become third, but in the end it was Anders"s brother Joergen who geared up, passed Oestensen and left him behind to gain third place.
On the women"s side, the later best three, got away quite early and left the other girls chasing behind them. Valentina Shevchenko (UKR), normally stronger in the skating technique, surprised herself by winning this “very hard race”, as she later told. Second placed Seraina Boner (SUI), not in her best form before Christmas due to sickness, showed that one always needs to have her on the list. Third placed Ano-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN), yesterday still racing the individual classic World Cup Sprint in Liberec, just around the corner from Bedrichov and the start of the Jizerská Padesatka, also stated that the race was pretty hard but that it was a very good training at the same time.
Anders Aukland now leading together with Petter Northug Jr. in the overall FIS Mararthon Cup, Seraina Boner 1st in the overall on the women"s side
Having both won one FIS Marathon Cup this season, Anders Aukland and Petter Northug (both NOR) are now leading together the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 100 points each. Also for the second place, there are two people sharing the spot: Lukas Bauer (CZE), second today, and Matti Heikkinen (FIN), second in La Sgambeda, right before Christmas, with 80 points. On the third spot, one can find Peter Novak (CZE) with 62 points.
On the women"s side it"s Seraina Boner (SUI) who leads with 140 points in front of Riitta-Liisa Roponen and Valentina Shevchenko (FIN & UKR, both 100 points) and Ekaterina Rudakova (BLR) with 80 points.
The complete result list from today"s race & the actual overall FIS Marathon Cup standing:
Anders Aukland (NOR):
It was a hard race. Especially in the beginning the pace was high as Lukas was pushing hard. I was about 34s behind him at the long uphill at 11km, but I could catch him 3-4km later. From then on, we went together. We shared the lead and worked well together which was good. Not too long before the finish I heard that Simen was coming closer and I thought about waiting for him, but only during the last kilometres. Then I pushed hard and counted on my double poling abilities and that worked. I passed Lukas and stayed well in front of him until the finish. The conditions today were just perfect and the race was very nice. I was hoping for the podium but I knew that there were a lot of strong skiers on the start line today. I even thought that Eldar (Roenning) might take the victory, but I am of course very happy that it was me in the end who finished first!
Lukas Bauer (CZE):
I got the permission from my team to attack right in the beginning and that was what I did. I got a nice gap between me and the others. After the long uphill at around 11km I went a bit slower and Anders could reach me. We went on together from this point and worked well together. In the end it was his experience and knowledge of when to attack right before the finish and his strong double poling which differentiated him from me today. However, I am very happy with my second place. I really enjoyed the last kilometres when it was clear that I would be on the podium! I don"t take the race too much as a preparation for the World Championships as the profile of the race will be completely different but it was a nice experience, especially with all the crowd cheering so loudly!
Joergen Aukland (NOR):
It was a hard race today! I was pretty sceptical if it would be a good idea to go on nowax and only using double poling, but in the end it was ok. Lukas was very strong in the first uphill and I had to push very hard to not completely loose contact. But then, it went better and better and about 6km before the finish, I caught Simen. Then I started thinking that a podium might be possible and I pushed very hard to get this third place. I am super happy with this podium place since the starter field was on a very high level today. It was a beautiful race and a very nice experience to be able to see the landscape for the first time in years. Every time we raced here in the last years, it was cloudy and foggy and we never got to really see where we were racing. Now we could see how beautiful it is around here!!
Valentina Shevchenko (UKR):
I am really really happy! I somehow even surprised myself with this victory. I was very tired after the Tour de Ski and in the beginning, the race was very hard. But I felt better and better along the way and therefore I pushed hard to get in front and to stay there until the finish. I prefer long races...they suit me best. I am looking forward to some more this winter!
Seraina Boner (SUI):
It"s a very hard track here – you always have to work, there is no real part where you can relax. But this year we had perfect conditions and when I saw the sun coming out this morning, I got another boost of motivation. I am really satisfied, especially since there were a lot of good racers on the start line. I wasn"t sure at all, if a podium would be possible today, therefore I am really happy that it worked out! I didn"t feel that well before Christmas but now it gets better and better and I am now looking really forward to the coming races!
Aino-Kaisa Saarinen (FIN):
Yesterday a Sprint race of 850m and today one of 50km – that"s quite a change. But I really enjoyed the experience, even though the race was very hard. I prefer shorter uphills but then more of them where I can really use my legs. Here it was almost all about double poling...therefore the race was much harder then I had expected since I am not that used to only do double poling. My goal is a podium in Val di Fiemme, so it was a good training for me today.
January 20: Dolomitenlauf (AUT) - 3rd FIS Marathon Cup 2012-13 / 60km FT