And the star team of the Tyumen region in the relay disappointed.
Relay competitions at the Russian Cross-Country Skiing Championships are perhaps the only sport in which there are no clear favorites. Both women and men claim victory in several regions.
In addition to the team intrigue, personal confrontations aroused great interest in the men’s race: the battle of classists Vokuyev and Bolshunov and the sprint duel between Retivykh and Terentyev.
The three-time Olympic champion gave an incredible race, but his teammates could not support him. And Vokuyev finally became the champion of Russia in Syktyvkar.
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The Tyumen region took the race under the first number. Of the 21 teams, fans could, if they wanted to, identify this region as a shadow favorite, because in their composition all skiers have good achievements in the international arena within the national team: Retivykh, Belov, Spitsov and Yakimushkin.
Among the other teams, there were regions with obvious leaders in the team, who could provide important gaps in their stages, allowing to fight for the podium. First of all, we are talking about the teams of Komi (Semikov, Vokuev, Poroshkin, Vitsenko) and the Arkhangelsk region (Terentyev, Bolshunov, Shemyakin, Goroshnikov)
Hypothetically, the intrigue was formed in this way: the strongest classmates Bolshunov and Vokuev could make a break for their teams, which will allow them to maintain the lead until the finish. If this does not happen, then the chances of Tyumen with strong third and fourth stages (Spitsov and Yakimushkin) seem preferable.
In the course of the first stage, a group of leaders was expected to be formed: Semikov, Terentyev and Feller. Ilya, who specializes in long-distance racing, managed to escape on the penultimate ascent, and sprinter Alexander Terentyev could not support him. Experienced Andrei Feller from the Tatarstan team caught on to the leader and passed the baton to the second position by a small margin.
Vokuyev went to the next stage with an advantage of 20 seconds over Bolshunov, who occupies the intermediate third place. Our Olympic champion quickly caught up with Andrei Larkov and gradually reduced the gap with Ermil. But it seemed that the marathon runner was not spending all his energy to maintain the advantage and was preparing to fight with Alexander in the second round.
However, these assumptions were shattered by Bolshunov’s fantastic acceleration after the first lap. Back in the stadium, he increased the tempo so much that Larkov and Vokuyev immediately fell behind. By the transfer of the stage, Bolshunov created a 32-second advantage over the pursuers. The powerful move of our leader became the decoration of the relay.
Photo: © Denis Bushkovsky / Match TV
The Tyumen team found itself in an extremely difficult situation. Belov passed the baton to Spitsov, who was almost two minutes behind.
The third stage of the relay was marked by the pursuit of Alexei Shemyakin from the team of the Arkhangelsk region. Persecutors in the person of Poroshkin (Komi) and Nikolaev (Tatarstan) reduced Shemyakin’s advantage to 25 seconds by the end of the first round, and by the time the relay was passed, it was leveled. Shemyakin was unable to preserve the backlog created by Bolshunov.
At the final stage, Alexei Vitsenko (Komi) stood out from the top three. His rivals Dmitry Goroshnikov (Arkhangelsk) and Yaroslav Rybochkin (Tatarstan) are less famous, so they could hardly impose a serious struggle. Moreover, the team of Tyumen broke into the fourth position, where Spitsov played half a minute and passed the baton to Yakimushkin with the potential to level the gap from third place.
Unfortunately for Alexander Bolshunov, his heroic stage did not ensure victory for the team. Vitsenko fully realized his potential and brought Komi victory. Goroshnikov did not hold the silver and became the third with the team of Arkhangelsk. Rybochkin brought Tatarstan second place.