Therese Johaug earned her third overall Tour de Ski title today as she won the concluding grand final event in Val di Fiemme, but hopes of a Norwegian double were ended as leader Johannes Høsflot Klæbo was dramatically overhauled by Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov,
Victory in the previous day’s men’s classic sprint event at this Italian resort had enabled Klæbo - seeking to become only the second skier to successfully defend the men’s title - to move back ahead of Bolshunov by a single second.
But Bolshunov did enough to become the third Russian to win the Tour de Ski - which sits within the International Ski Federation Cross-Country World Cup series - as he finished third on the day in the 10 kilometres final climb mass start pursuit event
He was 22.3 seconds behind winner Simen Krueger, who clocked 30min 55.8sec, and fellow Norwegian Sjur Roethe, second in 31:09.07.
Klæbo could only manage 21st place in 32:28.1.
That was still enough to see him onto the podium as overall third-placed skier, 69 seconds behind Bolshunov’s final combined time of 2 hours 58min 18.1sec.
Russia’s Sergey Ustiugov, who finished fifth today, took overall silver in 2:58:45.4.
"It is an amazing feeling," Bolshunov said.
"Even up to the final metres I was afraid to go forward because the uphill was really tricky.
"But finally by the finish line I had some power left.
"So it was just my day today."
Johaug won the seventh and final women’s stage, also over 10km, in 34:21.6, heading a Norwegian clean sweep as Heidi Weng finished second, 50.3 seconds behind, and defending overall champion Ingvild Flugstad Østberg was third, 54.5 seconds behind.
The 31-year-old, whose previous Tour de Ski wins came in 2014 and 2016, finished with a winning total of 2:28:18.6, giving her a 71.1 seconds margin over Russia’s Natalya Nepryayeva.
Only one female athlete has now won this title more times than she has - Poland’s four-times winner Justyna Kowalczyk.
Johaug may already have beaten that record but for the 18-month doping suspension she served from 2016 until 2018 after testing positive for banned anabolic steroids.
"My goal was to fight for the first place and today I did it so it has been seven hard days but I’m really, really happy now," Johaug said.
"I am really looking forward to ending this Tour de Ski because you wake every morning and are so nervous - but tomorrow I am free!"
Third place overall went to Østberg, who had used the Tour de Ski to return to action having missed the start of the season with health reasons.
Østberg, winner of fourth stage of the Tour de Ski in Toblach on New Year’s Day, finished 77.5 seconds behind her winning compatriot.