Bolshunov will get better, but as I wrote a bit earlier, his pole broke going up the Zorzi climb, just before the downhill into the stadium at 7.5km. A Russian coach can be seen running fast to hand him a spare. On the live timing you’ll notice he went from too 5 at 6.4km to 17th at the 7.5km mark in the stadium. He then made up places but that took its toll, not surprisingly. If this was least season’s Bolshunov he likely would have caught the leaders, but he’s clearly not in that form. His skis were also not optimal, that can happen. Klæbo is in top form at the moment, so Bolshunov would have had a tough time beating him even with a good pair of skis and no pole trouble. I though Niskanen would hang on relatively easily, but that didn’t happen. You could see him grimacing for much of the second half of the race, while Klæbo was stone faced. Surely he can’t keep that form at the Olympics?
Chervotkin had a storming last 5km’s, it looked like he was heading down the standings, but found something and then some to catch Bolshunov, Tønseth and Spitsov. And then passed them and actually helped those guys limit the damage to Klæbo and Niskanen, and they ran out of snow to catch the Finn. Spitsov had one of classic races of his life. If he skis classic like this in China, he could be extremely dangerous in the skiathlon.
What a shame for De Fabiani. He was gaining form, looking as possible podium threat in the overall, then his ski got a bit stuck in the tracks and then behind Even Northug and those two and a few others crashed on that roller into the stadium. Now he’s outside the top 10 and has no chance, perhaps even a top 10 is out of reach. That’s really unlucky. I was looking forward in him challenging today and tomorrow. Cramer’s guys are getting better by the race. I hope it continues for the next month and a half.