Yesterday was a travel/rest day for the team who arrived in time to ski the course and get settled for todayâ€™s racing. Fiona Hughes has now withdrawn from the remaining stages of the tour and leaves the two Andrews to cover the remaining 4 stages. The snow conditions were a world apart from the first 2 days of racing with a cold and firm snow pack.
In the qualifying time trial Andrew Young appears to have had a couple of falls on a technical and fast course leaving him at the back end of the field and missing qualification for the knock out stages. Depending on which section of the course you fall on you could loose anything from 5 to 10 seconds on a fall, so taking them in to account he is still showing good speed.
In contrast Musgrave blew all previous performances out of the water smashing his way in to the world top 10 by qualifying 9th fastest. With a history of getting in to the knock out stages at high level competitions I did wonder if he would be able to progress past the quarter finals, especially when his heat had Dario Cologna (Tour favourite), Alexander Legkov (RUS) and other strong sprinters in it. He set out hard and then found himself sitting towards the front of the pack.
Hats off to the support team for the ski preparation as Andrew had a very fast set of skis under him. On the flatter sections Andrew could be seen looking around and carefully playing a direct role in the tactics of the race, picking good lines with plenty of space. The course has two laps and although on the second lap Andrews technique started to be a little shorter than usual on the uphill section. He came into the finishing straight in 2nd place behind tour favourite and local hero Dario Cologna (SUI) and continued to hold his position to the finish line to qualify for his first ever semi final at World Cup level.
In his semi final he started out quickly and was holding 4th place for most of the first lap, however as he set out on the second lap he started to slow as the lactic acid started to burn. He came home at the back of the heat and did not progress to the final. The finish ranking places him in 11th position in a World Cup Stage race, hopefully as the tour continues and World Cup and Championships draws closer this form can continue, who knows next time it might be the final!
The mens race was won by Finn Hagen Krogh (NOR) beating local hero Dario Cologna to 4th place after he tripped over his own ski pole on the final climb of the course. The tour now moves on to Italy for a distance race on Thursday with 35km skating to be covered between Cortina and Toblach with the racers starting in a pursuit style based on the overall tour standings.
Â© Al Dargie 2012