VAL DI FIEMME (VG) Johannes Høsflot Klæbo completed another solid Tour de Ski race and secured his 46th individual World Cup victory. Now the monster hill awaits.
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Johannes Høsflot Klæbo already led the Tour de Ski by more than a minute before Monday’s 15-kilometer in Trøndelag’s favorite style, classic.
Then it came as no surprise that the 25-year-old was at the very front of the field from the first moment, and made sure to snatch both a few sprint points and bonus seconds along the way.
Even Northug also wanted to be in the fight for the sprint jersey, but got a little too eager and fell on his way down to the crossing point early in the race.
Klæbo took Finnish Iivo Niskanen on a run up to the next bonus line of 8.5 kilometers, and then no one was able to follow the duo. Bolshunov woke up a little too late, and had to use enormous force to chase the two.
Didrik Tønseth and Denis Spitsov signed up, and instead of being visited by them, Klæbo went for a solo jerk in the lead.
– It is absolutely incredible what is happening now. It is one of the toughest tracks in the World Cup. Klæbo works entirely in a separate class now, exclaimed cross-country expert Fredrik Aukland on the radio channel NRK Sport.
– I do not think I have ever seen him better in a joint start, continued commentator Jann Post.
Niskanen had nothing to contend with, and what was once “only” a sprint king, now “all-round king”, could sail to the finish line in solitary majesty – far ahead of the next boat.
– For my part, the rawest I have ever seen of him in a distance race, Aukland says.
With the victory, Klæbo broke the record for Bjørn Dehlie: 46 individual World Cup winners. He has managed this in just 97 attempts. It means victory in every other race he starts. In addition, he has ended up on the podium 64 times.
Norwegian cross-country legend Dæhlie took his 46th victory as a 31-year-old.
Johannes Høsflot Klæbo is 25.
At the same time, he passed Dario Cologna on the number of Tour de Ski trims, with his 12th in total. Petter Northug stands with 14.
– These are extreme numbers. It’s so impressive. I’m up in the years and have been on a team with many, but Johannes is unique in his own way and so dedicated. He has such strong speed characteristics and is good in both styles, both interval start and joint start, says Sjur Røthe to VG after witnessing Monday’s performance up close.
– He makes the sport boring when he is so superior, says Pål Golberg with a twinkle in his eye.
Johannes Høsflot now leads Klæbo Tour de Ski with exactly two minutes. The biggest winning margin in the tour was last year’s Bolshunov victory with three minutes down to Maurice Manificat.
It will all be decided up the alpine slope in Val di Fiemme on Tuesday.
– But he can not possibly give this up, TV3 commentator Jørn Sundby concludes.
PS! Klæbo still has a bit left if he intends to take the record to Marit Bjørgen. She stands with 114 World Cup winners.