By Teemu Virtanen
The Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour resumes tomorrow when Kaiser Maximilian Lauf takes place in Seefeld, Austria. The 60 km mass start race starts at 8:45 am CET with the women's competition, and the men follow them at 9:00 am CET.
The course has a climb point at 7 km and two sprint points at 22 km and 41 km. There are several challenging climbs and a fast downhill section on the course, and a scenic flat valley section in Leutasch gives the race a unique flavor.
Last year’s male winner Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, has fallen ill and cannot participate tomorrow. Britta Johansson Norgren, Lager 157 Ski Team, will defend her victory and face her fiercest opponent Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, who finished second last year.
"I think this year will be different from the one we had last year," Johansson Norgren predicted when sharing her thoughts on tomorrow's race. "Astrid used kick wax last time and it was back-and-forth between us then, but now both of us will go double-poling. There are some women with grip, which means that there could be some early breakaway attempts by them when we climb up."
In the women’s competition, other possible podium skiers include Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Koteng, Katerina Smutná, ED System Bauer Team, Emilie Fleten, Team Ragde Eiendom, Lina Korsgren, Team Ramudden, and her teammates Ida Dahl and Jenny Larsson.
In the men’s race, Russian Winter Team's Ermil Vokuev, the winner of the last race La Venosta, is one of the favorites along with Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Kaffebryggeriet, who has been on the podium in both individual races this season.
"I have trained well since La Venosta, and I'm aiming to be on the podium and even win tomorrow as well," Vokuev admitted the day before the race. "Petter Eliassen is not in the race, but I will follow anyone who tries to break away and see if I can beat that person."
Team Ragde Eiendom Pro Team Athletes, the current Hertz Champion Andreas Nygaard, Tord Asle Gjerdalen and Oskar Kardin, have not performed at their best possible level yet, but they are expected to be among the top finishers.
Other candidates for high positions are Vetle Thyli, Team Kaffebryggeriet, Max Novak, Team Ramudden, Stian Hoelgaard, Team Koteng, Øyvind Moen Fjeld, Lager 157 Ski Team, and Ari Luusua, Vltava Fund Team.
The weather forecast predicts close to zero temperatures, precipitation 0,4 mm or even less, light breeze, 1 m/s, from north-northwest and a sunny weather in the afternoon.