Double delight: Russian skiers Bolshunov & Ustiugov celebrate success at FIS Tour de Ski
Four-time Olympic medalist Bolshunov, who was in second place ahead of the final climbing stage, splendidly held the men’s 10km freestyle mass start – proving wrong the pessimists who suggested he might have been too ‘heavy’ for the high-mountain race.
The 23-year-old, who trailed yellow jersey holder Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo of Norway by just one second, proved that he is a true fighter by finishing the exhausting race in fourth place.
Bolshunov, who spent the entire race in the leading group, lost 22.5 seconds to eventual winner Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway, but managed to secure an overall lead in the tournament, cementing his maiden win at the FIS Tour de Ski.
With this success, Bolshunov has become the third Russian skier to win the Tour de Ski, after Alexander Legkov in 2012-2013 and Sergey Ustiugov in 2016-2017.
Bolshunov’s teammate Ustiugov, who was third after six events, managed to improve his final position - moving one place up in the standings to claim overall silver.
Pre-race favorite Klaebo squandered his lead on the alpine skiing course of Val di Fiemme, finishing 21st in the final race, which brought him into overall third place.
In the women’s field, Norwegian legend Therese Johaug defended her title from last year, with Russia’s Natalya Nepryaeva grabbing silver.