Norway’s Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo held onto his overnight lead of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross Country World Cup to take victory ahead of compatriot Martin Johnsrud Sundby on the third and final day of the event in Ruka, Finland.
21-year-old Klaebo started the day 38 seconds ahead and managed to hold his position, despite some intense competition which saw him caught before the 10 kilometre mark of the men’s 15km free technique pursuit.
The race eventually came down to the final lap when a group of four broke away from the rest of the pack in pursuit of the gold.
Johnsrud Sundby seemed to have the momentum, increasing the pace as the skiers headed towards the finish line.
However, he did not quite have enough to beat Klaebo, who finished just 0.4 seconds ahead of the Sochi 2014 silver medallist to take the gold.
Alexander Bolshunov of Russia claimed bronze, one second behind Sundby.
Speaking after his win, Klaebo said “I like the courses in Ruka.
“There are a lot of climbs and downhills and possibilities to recover.
“It was really a tough competition today.
“Bolshunov and Martin were pushing hard.
“Towards the end I was tired but I am very happy I could finish first.”
Despite missing out on first place in agonising fashion, Sundby seemed happy with his race.
“I felt better today," he said.
“The beginning of the season has been little bit up and down for me.
“I am not as stable as I used to be in the past but my training has been different than in the previous years.
“It’s good to be on the podium.
“The sprint on Friday was one of the best classical sprints I have ever done.
“Saturday’s race is just a competition to forget but it was better today.
”To be second is better than I expected before the start of today’s race.”
After finishing second on day two of the FIS Cross Country World Cup, Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla claimed the gold in the women’s 10km event, increasing her lead in the overall season standings to 9.7 seconds over Norwegian Marit Bjoergen, who won yesterday’s event.
The lead had swapped between Kalla and Bjoergen throughout today's race until the final lap when the 30-year-old Swede increased her pace and pushed ahead of her opponent to take gold.
Speaking after her win, Kalla said
“I enjoyed skiing today.
“It was very fun to ski in Ruka.
“The course has long uphills and I tried to safe some energy in first three laps.
“In the last lap my plan was to ski hard.
”I am looking forward to Lillehammer.
“There are also tough tracks.
“It will be exciting.
“Many athletes need some competitions to be skiing fast.
”I hope there will be more girls fighting with me and Marit.
“I am looking forward to going home.
“I have been at home since the beginning of November.”
Bjoergen said she was happy with second place but it was evident she was disappointed at being unable to follow up on yesterday’s first place finish.
“I am happy with the second place.
“I tried my best but Charlotte was better than me.
”When she attacked in the last lap I could not follow her.
“I am very satisfied with my yesterday’s performance, today it was on OK race from me.”
The fastest lap time of the day was recorded by Ragnhild Haga of Norway, whose efforts saw her move up from tenth to third to complete the podium lineup.
The next FIS Cross Country World Cup event starts on December 2 in Lillehammer, Norway.