Klaebo digs deep to claim first Tour de Ski title

Sprint king Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo and Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg completed maiden triumphs in contrasting fashions on Alpe Cermis.

It was the longest 200 metres in the career of Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo.

The final stage of the Tour de Ski is not one for the faint-hearted.

Most of the 9km free pursuit sees the athletes take on a gruelling ascent of Alpe Cermis in Val di Fiemme.

Klaebo had already shown stamina to match his sprinting prowess during the race, and he managed to build on his overnight lead of 80 seconds at halfway.

But inside the final kilometre, the week's exertions finally caught up with the Norwegian.

Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo approaches the summit of Alpe Cermis at the end of the Tour de Ski
Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo approaches the summit of Alpe Cermis at the end of the Tour de SkiJohannes Hoesflot Klaebo approaches the summit of Alpe Cermis at the end of the Tour de Ski

With his hat and sunglasses long discarded, Klaebo slowed considerably in the closing stages.

For a brief moment, it looked like nearest rival Sergey Ustiugov might catch him as he was reduced to walking speed.

But the three-time Olympic gold medallist had just enough to trudge across the line 16.7 seconds ahead of the Russian before collapsing through sheer exhaustion.

A few minutes later, he was back on his feet celebrating his first Tour de Ski triumph.

Klaebo's team-mate Simen Hegstad Krueger had an excellent day, moving up from fifth place to take the final spot on the podium.

Tour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Sergey Ustiugov, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, third-placed Simen Hegstad Krueger
Tour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Sergey Ustiugov, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, third-placed Simen Hegstad KruegerTour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Sergey Ustiugov, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo, third-placed Simen Hegstad Krueger

At 22 years and 76 days, Klaebo is the youngest man to take overall victory, beating the record set by four-time winner Dario Cologna in 2009.

He was magnificent all week, winning both sprint stages before taking distance tests on Thursday and Saturday.

The victor on the day was another Norwegian, Sjur Roethe, who clocked 30:32, 1.3 seconds faster than Krueger.

Oestberg completes maiden win in style

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg said on Saturday that she was glad to increase her lead over her rivals to 53 seconds, claiming the finale was "maybe not my favourite stage".

She might have changed her mind after a comprehensive victory on Alpe Cermis.

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg celebrates victory on the final climb of the Tour de Ski
Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg celebrates victory on the final climb of the Tour de SkiIngvild Flugstad Oestberg celebrates victory on the final climb of the Tour de Ski

Norway's double Olympic champion won her fourth stage in succession and finished a massive two minutes and 42 seconds clear of Natalia Nepryaeva,

Four-time Olympic medallist Krista Parmakoski took over a minute out of the Russian as she set the second quickest time on the final climb.

But the Finn could not improve on her third place from overnight, finishing 13.9 seconds behind Napryaeva.

Tour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Natalia Nepryaeva, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, third-place Krista Parmakoski
Tour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Natalia Nepryaeva, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, third-place Krista ParmakoskiTour de Ski final podium (L-R): runner-up Natalia Nepryaeva, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg, third-place Krista Parmakoski

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