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25/02/12 Martin Koukal (CZE) wins the 39th edition of the Finlandia Hiihto (50km classic) – Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) winner on the women's side!

Martin Koukal (CZE) wins the 39th edition of the Finlandia Hiihto (50km classic) – Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) winner on the women"s side!!!

Normally, the skating technique is his favourite one and he would never declare himself a classic specialist, however, it was in a classic style race, that he won his first FIS Marathon Cup: Martin Koukal (CZE), World Champion from 2003 over 50km skating, crowned himself winner of the Finlandia Hiihto which is also 50km long but is skied in classic technique! The two Italians Sergio Bonaldi, who had already been second in the skating race La Transjurassienne two weeks ago, and Marco Cattaneo, placed second and third, battling had in order to leave their team mate Florian Kostner on the fourth spot.

The big favourite of today"s race, the leader of the FIS Marathon Cup, Stanislav Rezac, like Koukal from the Czech Republic, couldn"t place better than fifth.

Like at the Dolomitenlauf or at La Transjurassienne, Team Skinfit Racing took its chances in the absence of the Norwegian and Swedish classic specialists and secured the top podium place in both races: With Koukal on the men"s side and with Valentina Shevchenko (UKR) on the women"s one! The Ukrainian once again knew only one thing and that was skiing fast like a lightning! She left Tatiana Manimaa (EST) and Stephanie Santer (ITA) to get second and third. Once again, the very hilly terrain of the Finlandia Hiihto helped Shevchenko to play her card, pushing hard on the uphills but enjoying racing at the same time.

Around -3°C during the race, only a light breeze and no snowfall made it possible to held the race in perfect conditions. Over 3.000 racers took the start in Lahti this morning, ready to explore the track to Hollola and back to Lahti!

Stanislav Rezac (CZE) still leader of the overall FIS Marathon Cup with 345 points – Stephanie Santer (ITA) new leader on the women"s side!

No changes in the men"s ranking of the overall FIS Marathon Cup: Stanislav Rezac (CZE) leads now with 345 points in front of Joergen Aukland (NOR, 256 points) and Jimmie Johnsson (SWE, 235 points). On the women"s side the leader bib goes back to Stephanie Santer (ITA) who leads now with 381 points in front of Susanne Nyström (SWE, 365 points) and Jenny Hansson (SWE, 332 points).

The next FIS Marathon Cup race will be the Vasaloppet (SWE), 90km classic, on March 4.

contributed by worldloppet.com