Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three to Go

No, that's not a guess as to the number of racers who will be left by the last stage of the Tour de Ski. In fact it refers to the three stages left in the Tour: the infamous Final Climb up the Alpe Cermis on Sunday, the tough mass-start classic races over 10km and 20km on Saturday, and, on Thursday, old school interval-start classic races: 5km for the women and 10km for the men. Near as I can tell from the FIS's databases, the last time these distances were used on the World Cup was in 2003 at Asiago, where Bente Skari took an easy victory in the women's race and Andrus Veerpalu handily won the men's. I remember watching the '88 Olympics and hearing the 5km called the "sprint" and thinking, "Damn - a sport where three miles is a sprint?"

Though no longer the shortest distance in the World Cup, the 13 or 14 minute effort in the women's race won't do much to separate the four remaining contenders for the TdS title, especially since no bonus seconds are on offer. My picks:
1. Majdic
2. Saarinen
3. Kowalczyk

Similarly, 10,000 meters isn't much racing for the men, but I think Northug's going to phone this one in ahead of Friday's rest day and the final two stages this weekend. Teichmann, on the other hand, looks to have just about 10k of snap in his legs. Picks:
1. Teichmann
2. Bauer
3. Heikkinen