alex-harvey_584

Canadian Alex Harvey believes his under-23 victory on Monday is the perfect tuneup for the senior world cross-country championships in late February in Oslo, Norway. ((Joosep Martinson/Ohtuleht))

Alex Harvey has won his first cross-country skiing world title.

The native of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., skied to victory in the men's 30-kilometre pursuit race Monday at the under-23 world  championships in Oetepaa, Estonia.

He said it's the perfect tuneup for the senior world championships in late February in Oslo, Norway.

"My goal this year is to medal at the big world championships, but it is sweet to say I was a world champion at one stage in my life and that is something that nobody will ever be able to take away from me," Harvey said in a release.    The 22-year-old battled from the start with Russia's Evegeniy Belov.

The two pulled away at the 10-kilometre mark of the classic cross-country ski leg and opened a 33-second lead at the transition to skate-skiing. Athletes ski 15 kilometres of each discipline.

Belov took the lead over Harvey heading into the finishing stretch, but the Canadian powered his way past the Russian in the sprint with 500 metres to go, posting a winning time of one hour 13 minutes 47.9 seconds. Belov crossed in 1:13:48.6, while Russia's Raul Shakirzianov took the bronze in 1:14:23.6.

Calgary's Kevin Sandau finished 24th, while Graeme Killick, of Banff, Alta., was 31st, and Michael Somppi, of Thunder Bay, Ont., finished 40th.

Alysson Marshall of Salmon Arm, B.C., was the top Canadian in the women's 10-kilometre pursuit race, finishing 19th. Emily Nishikawa of Whitehorse was 25th, while Toronto's Erin Tribe was 37th.

Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg won the women's race.

Harvey, who's the son of former World Cup champion skier Pierre Harvey, was a favourite to win gold at the world junior championships but was slowed by an injury.

"This is sweet redemption for me and I'm pretty happy," he said.

Harvey has also won three World Cup bronze medals.