By Teemu Virtanen
History was made today in Italy as Sweden’s Lager 157 Ski Team managed to win both the men’s and women’s Livigno Prologue events, the 35 km individual mass start races. Britta Johansson Norgren and Emil Persson were victorious today, and the latter became the first Swedish male stage winner since Daniel Richardsson’s victory at Årefjällsloppet in 2014.
The women’s race started first, and there was no decisive action, and Johansson Norgren was able to collect enough points in both competitions to get the Spring and Climb bibs. She pushed really hard on the last climb and got a gap before descending to the finish area. Her rivals were not close enough to challenge her, and she won the race before Katerina Smutná, Ed System Bauer Team, and Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes, Team Koteng. Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, was 4th and the new face in the game Emilie Fleten, Team Ragde Eiendom, had a great individual debut with her 5th place.
“It was a fun race,” Johansson Norgren admitted at the finish. “I wanted to have an easy day and had no problems except momentarily when I got a bit snow-blinded. This weekend has been really great for our team, and I’m so happy to have my daughter here as well. This is a great start for the season for all of us.”
The men’s race followed the same script as the women’s, and there were no decisive breakaways. Many expected Petter Eliassen, Team Ragde Eiendom, to attack, which he tried to do on the last lap but unsuccessfully. Morten Eide Pedersen, Team Kaffebryggeriet, attacked on the last climb before the finish and managed to get a short gap, but his opponents caught up with him. Emil Persson sprinted the fastest leaving Pedersen second and Stian Hoelgaard, Team Koteng, 3rd. Lager 157 Ski Team’s Marcus Johansson was 4thand Vetle Thyli 5th. There was a photo finish between the second, third and fourth best skiers while Thyli was one second behind the winner.
“It was a tough race,” Persson said after the race. “I helped my teammate Andreas Holmberg to get the climb points, and just before the finish I realized that I had a chance and I pushed as hard as I could. This is something we’ve been waiting for so long, and it feels great to finally win. It was really a perfect team effort today!”
Persson is also the current Youth bib holder while Thea Krokan Murud, Team Ragde Eiendom, has the pink bib in the women’s competition. Both Persson and Johansson Norgren lead the Visma Alp Trophy tour after the first stage. Max Novak, Team Ramudden, had a good day and he scored points in both Sprint points, and he now leads that competition. Andreas Holmberg, Lager 157 Ski Team, was a strong climber today and he has the Climb bib. Kristoffer Nielsen, Team XPND, was awarded with the Visma Skier of the Day award as he broke his ski early on but decided to continue with a replacement ski.
The next Visma Ski Classics event is La Venosta, 40 km classic, in Italy on December 14, 2019. Check out the results of the today's race at our Live Center.