Bjoergen on course for first Tour de Ski title

Marit Bjoergen Alessandro Trovati/AP

TOBLACH, Italy — Six-time Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen remained on course for a first Tour de Ski victory as she won her fifth straight stage on Thursday.

Bjoergen, who has twice finished runner-up in the World Cup’s annual mini competition, clocked 36 minutes, 37.9 seconds in the 15-kilometre pursuit to extend her lead over Norwegian compatriot Heidi Weng to 2 minutes, 3.8 seconds.

Another Norwegian, Therese Johaug, was third, finishing nearly three minutes behind. The defending champion fell 3:01.4 behind Bjoergen.

It was Bjoergen’s seventh consecutive victory overall, including two World Cup wins before the Tour began.

It was closer in the men’s 25-kilometre skate-ski pursuit, where Petter Northug of Norway beat Calle Halfvarsson by two seconds in the 25K pursuit to extend his lead over the Swedish skier to seven seconds.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby had started the day 1.5 seconds behind Northug but fell to third, 12.2 behind.

Alex Harvey of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., had the 21st-fastest time of the day to move into sixth place in the overall standings.

"My optimistic goal was to ski back into the top-five. I just got outsprinted at the end, but I improved on my result so I have to be happy with today," said Harvey, who finished in 54:35.1. "The group didn’t push too hard today so I’m feeling less tired than I did at this point last year."

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