Alex Harvey 4th in pursuit, gains on Ski Tour Canada leaders
Russia's Ustiugov maintains advantage at mid-way point
Canada's Alex Harvey remained in fourth place after Saturday's pursuit race in Quebec City in Ski Tour Canada, but gained on the leaders at the midway point of the eight-race series. —
Harvey, 27, from Saint Ferreol les Neiges, Que., began the fourth stage in fourth place, more than two minutes behind leader Sergey Ustiugov of Russia. But with his time of 34:24 in the skate-ski pursuit, Harvey was able to close the gap on the second- and third-place skiers, Petter Northug and Emil Iversen, both of Norway.
With the event moving to Alberta's Canmore Nordic Centre for four races beginning with a classic ski-sprint race on Tuesday, Harvey, who was second Friday in a sprint stage, has closed the gap on the contenders.
Overall, Ustiugov leads Northug by 22.7 seconds, with Iversen another 50 seconds back. Harvey cut 46 seconds off Iversen's edge over him as he slipped past Martin Johnsrud Sundby just before the finish to maintain fourth place overall.
"It was a good day. I treated it like an individual start, but to push the pace," Harvey said. "I think it worked out perfectly. I skied with Sundby. who has been the best skier over the last three years all day and, more importantly, I cut the time I am behind in the tour in half."
Other Canadian men's standings at the halfway point of the event include Sudbury's Devon Kershaw in 21st, Ivan Babikov, of Canmore, in 35th; and Graeme Killick, of Fort McMurray, Alta., in 49th.
Final 4 stages 'absolutely brutal'
The Norwegian women completed a sweep Saturday as Heidi Weng edged Therese Johaug by 0.1 second, with Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen more than a minute behind in third in the 10k pursuit.
The Norwegian trio has the overall lead after four races and are joined by two other compatriots in the top 6 in the standings with only Jessica Diggins of the United States breaking up Norway's monopoly in fifth place.
Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse led the Canadians in the 10k pursuit race with a 45th place result. Cendrine Brown of St-Jérôme, Que., was 49th.
"These final four stages are going to be absolutely brutal, " Harvey explained. "Canmore is one of the toughest courses in the world and we are at altitude. Fatigue is setting in for everyone. We have a big travel day tomorrow so recovery over the next two days is going to be very important. I am in good position and looking forward to the next stage there."
With files from Cross Country Canada