So Close in Marcialonga


Madshus Marathon racers Oeystein Pølsa Pettersen (left) and Tore Berdal, both of Team United Bakeries, pulled in to third and fifth place, respectively, in the 2015 Marcialonga. They will be back. Photo: Stian Groenaas


Oeystein Pettersen (NOR) showed no respect to the veterans when he debuted onto the podium in his first attempt at the Marcialonga on Sunday.


The Madshus Marathon team racer looked like he was going to pull off the victory until only a few hundred meters remained, but ended up third, only seconds behind the winner.


Pettersen, a former Norwegian national sprint team racer, didn’t just enter the Marcialonga for the first time, he did it in the yellow Ski Classics overall leader bib, and he lead the pack with 2km to go. And he’s hungry for more.


“It was fun to race my first event in the yellow jersey, it was fun to race the Marcialonga for the first time, and it was fun to make my mark on the race. I’m proud of my performance, and I can already announce that next year, I will ski more aggressively and make my move earlier on the hill,” Pettersen said after the race.


Unusually fierce
Due to lack of snow, the course was cut from 70 k to 57 k, which made the competition even fiercer than normal with a fight for positions right from the get-go.


At 10km to the finish, there was still a pack of 20 racers in the front, and Morten Eide Pedersen (NOR)  tried to pull away from the field, but failed to lose the rest. At 5km from the finish, Tord Asle Gjerdalen (NOR) tried to go, with the same result. At 2km to the finish, going into the final, dreaded monster hill, Pettersen managed to get a gap on the field, and looked like he was going to pull it off. But with 500 meters to go, the race turned into a 3-way sprint.


However, Gjerdalen and Anders Aukland (NOR), both of Team Santander, caught Pettersen during the last half-kilometer, turning the race into a three-way sprint. Gjerdalen was the strongest in the end, snagging the victory from his teammate by 2.5 seconds and earning his first Ski Classics victory. Madshus racer Tore Berdal (NOR), also of Team United Bakeries, was fifth overall.


Held onto the overall lead
The 57-k classic race Marcialonga in Northern Italy was the fifth event in the 2015 Ski Classics series and the third event in the 2015 FIS Marathon Cup. Pettersen’s Team United Bakeries remains in the top of the team competition, while Team Santander moves up to second place, only nine points behind Team United Bakeries, and Pettersen remains in second place in the overall sprint points competition.


The Ski Classics now moves to Germany for the 45 k König Ludwiglauf next Sunday. After that, the long-distance series takes a month off before the Vasaloppet in Sweden on March 8, Birkebeinerrennet in Norway on March 21 and the Ski Classics Final, Årefjällsloppet on March 29.

Complete results and standings