Antoine Cyr and Katherine Stewart-Jones Make Move at Second Stage of Tour de Ski
VAL MUSTAIR, Sui.—Antoine Cyr and Katherine Stewart-Jones surged into the New Year and up the Tour de Ski standings with top-25 finishes in the 10-kilometre classic-ski pursuit races on Sunday.
Cyr (Gatineau, Que.) battled to 20th spot in the men’s race while Stewart-Jones (Chelsea, Que.) climbed 21 spots into 25th in the women’s competition, leading nine Canadians at the second stage of the seven-race test of fitness held over nine days.
Starting in 32nd spot based on the results of Saturday’s sprint races, the 24-year-old Cyr skied calm and in control, steadily picking up spots on the field while progressing through the four-lap test that combined multiple climbs with a significant downhill section.
“It was a good race. I thought it would be hectic but things were stretched out and a few little packs were forming. I just wanted to ski my own race and not blow up too early,” said Cyr.
Cyr clocked a 20th-place time of 27:13.2. The 2022 Olympian is now one minute, 18 seconds behind the Tour leader.
“This is my first Tour so I’m just going day by day and see how it feels in the end. I left it all on the track today,” he said.
Five-time Olympic gold medallist, Johannes Klaebo of Norway, remained unbeaten in the opening two stages. Klaebo captured the 13th stage victory of his career with a golden time of 25:55.0. Norway’s Paal Golberg clocked the next best time, 10 seconds back, at 26:05.2. The overall World Cup leader edged out Italy’s Federico Pellegrino at the line in a photo finish. Pellegrino placed third at 26:05.2.
Olivier Léveillé, of Sherbrooke, Que., climbed 17 spots up the standings. Starting in 55th, the 21-year-old skied to 38th place with a time of 27:51.6.
Russell Kennedy (Canmore, Alta.) was 46th at 28:00.3. Another one of Canada’s U23 athletes, Remi Drolet (Rossland, B.C.), picked off 26 athletes in the field en route to a 65th place time at 28:33.7. Sam Hendry (Canmore, Alta.) was 71st at 28:37.6 and Graham Ritchie (Parry Sound, Ont.) was 75th at 28:54.1.
Katherine Stewart-Jones made her first move on the world’s best women’s skiers. Starting time behind the leaders in 46th spot, the scrappy 27-year-old Olympian charged out of the gate into a top-25 position within the first half of the race in the fast and warm conditions. Stewart-Jones hovered around the 25 spot in the field until she crossed the finish line with a time of 30:51.7.
“My approach was to move up as much as possible. Everyone started very close together, but the pursuit allowed for a little more space to move so I took the outside track on the climb and passed as many as possible,” said Stewart-Jones, who is two minutes back of the overall Tour leader. “It was a decent day, but I definitely think there are lots of opportunities to keep moving up the field.”
The women’s overall World Cup leader, Tiril Weng of Norway, celebrated her first Tour de Ski stage victory with a time of 28:51.3.
Weng won a sprint finish between four athletes. Finland’s Kerttu Niskanen stretched out for second spot at 28:51.7. Sweden’s Frida Karlsson completed the 10-kilometre test in third at 28:51.9.
Dahria Beatty, of Whitehorse, advanced nine spots up the field into 45th at 31:38.1. Quebec City teenager, Liliane Gagnon, was 60th at 33:07.0.
The Tour de Ski now travels to Oberstdorf, Germany where it will resume on Tuesday with the next two stages.
Modeled after the Tour de France in cycling, the 17th annual Tour de Ski is the ultimate test of fitness to determine the king and queen of cross-country skiing. The seven-race Tour through three countries in Central Europe tests the world’s best cross-country skiers in all race formats, culminating with a 425-metre climb to the top of Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme, Italy on January 8.
“It is important to conserve energy – both mentally and physically – and having a plan before and after each race to recover as best as possible,” said Stewart-Jones, who like all nine Canadians, is competing in her first ever Tour de Ski. “I know that I am a consistent skier, and good in both classic and skate, so I’m playing the long game, trying to move up each stage.”