January 07, 2017

TESERO, Italy (AP) Sergey Ustiugov's run of five straight stage wins in the Tour de Ski ended on Saturday, although the Russian retained a comfortable overall lead before the concluding climb of Mount Cermis.

Two-time Tour champion Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway won the 15-kilometer classical mass start race in slightly more than 40 minutes, just 2.2 seconds ahead of rival Ustiugov. Matti Heikkinen of Finland crossed third, 2.8 behind.

Ustiugov was bidding to become the first skier, male or female, to win all seven stages in the 11-year history of the Tour. He remained 1 minute, 11.9 seconds ahead of Sundby, with three-time Tour winner Dario Cologna of Switzerland in third, 2:04.1 back.

Ustiugov struggled midway through the stage but his Russian teammates escorted him back to the front.

''My teammates did an amazing job today,'' Ustiugov said. ''The fact I am second is mainly thanks to them. I expected to be in top 20 today.''

In the women's 10K event, Stina Nilsson of Sweden reclaimed the Tour lead with her fourth stage win, setting up a close final-day contest with Norwegian rival Heidi Weng on Sunday.

Nilsson required slightly more than half an hour to complete the classical mass start event in Val di Fiemme. Nilsson finished 3.0 seconds ahead of Anne Kylloenen of Finland and 3.7 in front of fellow Swede Charlotte Kalla, the 2008 Tour champion.

Nilsson, who lost her lead and dropped to third overall a day earlier, moved 19.2 seconds ahead of Weng in the Tour standings. Krista Parmakoski of Finland was third, 53.9 behind.

''I knew the body could respond both ways in the Tour and I'm so happy it responded in the right way,'' Nilsson said.

Weng finished seventh in the stage, 17.5 seconds behind Nilsson.

Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg also struggled, placing 18th in the stage and dropping out of contention from her second-placed standing entering the day.

The Tour remains in the Val di Fiemme for the traditional last-stage climb up Mount Cermis on Sunday.

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