Chinese Wang Qiang scored a tactically brilliant win today with an obvious advantage on Changbaishan Luneng Resort, the first stage of 2019 Tour de Ski China.
The 25-year-old Chinese attacked early, got reeled in, but still had enough juice in the legs to win the sprint to the line. In the past few years, he had never won a stage. Today, he rode away his frustration. In women’s competition, Russian Marina Chernousova surprisingly won the race.
A beautiful sunny blue-sky-day in Changbaishan today for the 1.5 km sprint of free style , which essentially went around the Luneng forest . The course offered more hills and steeper gradients than last year, so it was made for aggressive skiers who like to attack. Indeed, from the get-go and contrary to previous predictions, skiers went on the offensive. Winner Wang Qiang himself was one of the most industrious – keen on the place until the final sprint. Reese Hanneman, the adventurous and powerful American skier, who was too far behind Wang Qiang in the final, had to accept the second place. Russian Raul Shakirzyanov and his compatriots Lakov Lemanov was third and fourth.
In the background, the women’s race was heating up with Chinese Li Xin and Chi Chunxue not giving each other an inch, while another skier Marina Chernousova was putting them under pressure. Last year’s women’s overall champion Jackline Lockner was eliminated in the semifinals and did not make it to the podium.
Li Xin and Sweden’s Maria Gräfnings started strongly in the women’s final, but their climbing ability was no match for Marina Chernousova who was last year’s Vasaloppet China’ winner. The Russian stayed ahead of Li Xin to grab the stage victory. With Vasaloppet China coming up on Friday the 4th, Chernousova is a big favourite to win this year’s overall Tour de Ski title.
Men’s sprin in the final
Chinese Wang Qiang won the race
Women Sprint in the final
Top 4 Women in today’s race
Top 4 Men in today’s race