By Teemu Virtanen
The second event in the Visma Ski Classics Challengers tour, Gautefallrennet, took place today in Norway. The 60 km roller-ski race offered some great action, impressive breakaways and an extremely challenging course.
In the men’s race, Pontus Nordström from Sweden, Team Serneke, attacked early in the race, but he was soon caught up by the lead group. Another breakaway materialized as Vinjar Skogsholm from Norway, Team ParkettPartner Sjusjøen, skied away from his rivals getting a 2-minute lead, but he was disqualified due to using a wrong pair of skis causing him to withdraw from the race. By the time the skiers reached the biathlon stadium, only last year’s winner Anders Mølmen Høst from Norway, Team Serneke, and Morten Eide Pedersen from Norway, Lillehammer Skiklubb, were left to fight for the victory. Mølmen Høst was faster after a tight sprint while Simen Engebretsen Nordli from Norway, Team ParkettPartner Sjusjøen, was third.
“I feel really tired,” the exhausted Mølmen Høst said at the finish. “Morten Eide was so strong. We had a psychological cat and mouse game going on between us, but I managed to hang on in the last climb and I felt good at the sprint finish. It was a tough and long race, but I’m really happy about my victory today. We will now stay here after the race and do some good training in the mountains. My next roller-ski race for will be Klarälvsloppet in Sweden and then I’ll start preparing for the winter.”
In the women’s race, three skiers managed to break away right from the beginning; Lina Korsgren from Sweden, Team Ramudden, Kari Vikhagen Gjeitnes from Norway, Team Koteng, Ingeborg Dahl from Norway, Team XPND. Vikhagen Gjeitnes attacked in the last climbs and won the race followed by Korsgren and Dahl, respectively. Last year’s winner Astrid Øyre Slind, Team Koteng, did not race today.
“It felt a bit heavy in the beginning,” the happy winner Vikhagen Gjeitnes declared after the race. “But it got better towards the end, and it’s always great to finish first. I’ve been training well, and I think my shape is going up now. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming training months and the winter. I really want to win Marcialonga next season, but first I’ll do Klarälvsloppet in a couple of weeks.”
The next event in Visma Ski Classics Challengers tour is Klarälvsloppet, 90 km roller-ski race, in Sweden on Sunday, September 22. The Gautefallrennet results can be found https://vestmarsportsfestival.no/resultatlister/