Lisa Svensson staged a formidable coup in the sixth stage of the China Tour de Ski in Nalati, as she overtook the suprisingly strong Evelina Bangman in the final corner of the 2.5km distance race this afternoon. Svensson calculated the tricky 180 degree bend to perfection and left Bangman standing in the final dash to the line. What’s more, Svensson takes over the lead in the overall classification as Frida Hallqvist had a complete off-day (11th) and Julia Jansson could not do better than 6th.
A beautiful sunny day and temperatures just under zero degrees Celcius set a magnificent atmosphere for the penultimate stage of the Tour in the Nalati grasslands. The local Kazakh community turned out in large numbers and upon entering the arena greeted the skiers with great enthusiasm. The local hospitality was tremendous and the official opening ceremony set an example for many. Nalati definitely did not miss this opportunity to show itself and its fascinating minority culture to the world.
The ski course is arguably also the most interesting and challening of this year’s Tour, and many hope the distance race here could be longer in the future. Frida Hallqvist had to be on stage for the opening ceremony a little too long as leader in the women’s competition, which may have affected her performance today. Nevertheless, it was not a photo finish but a significant gap between her and today’s frontrunners. Evelina Bangman has not had a podium finish so far and looked set to grab the stage, but Lisa Svensson had the bit between her teeth and did what she had to do to safeguard her chances for the overall Tour de Ski win. Luck was on her side as Julia Jansson, who was unbeatable at Tianshan Tianchi, also had to let three Chinese skiers in front of her today. Chen Shuang and Chi Chunxue once again made it to the podium, much to the delight of the local crowd.
Lisa Svensson has a 31-point advantage over Julia Jansson going into tomorrow’s final ski sprint at the same Nalati arena. Hallqvist suddenly finds herself down 41 points. Nothing has been decided as all three still have a shot to take the overall. However, after today it seems hard to bet against Svensson!
Stage 6 – Nalati Distance race 2.5km – Women
1. Lisa Svensson (SWE)
2. Evelina Bangmann (SWE)
3. Chen Shuang (CHN)
4. Chi Chunxue (CHN)
5. Guo Yuxin (CHN)
6. Julia Jansson (SWE)
7. Ma Qinghua (CHN)
11. Frida Hallqvist (SWE)
Start of the women’s distance race in Nalati in front of many local spectators
Evelina Bangman leads Lisa Svensson in the descent towards the final u-turn…..
…but Svensson comes out first to win her first stage and grab the lead in the overall classification
Frida Hallqvist (1) did not have the best of races and finished well down in 11th spot.
New China Tour de Ski leader Lisa Svensson talks to the press after her magnificent win in Nalati