February 3, 2023

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Federico Pellegrino attacks Norway: – Every time you find something you don’t like

A CLOSE BATTLE: Pål Golberg took second, nailing ahead of Federico Pellegrino at the start of Sunday’s chase. Johannes Hosflute Klæbo won the race.

Peter Skeenstad, VAL MUSTAIR (VG) TV 2 expert, called this year’s Tour de Ski edition the “Tour de Kjip”. Italian Federico Pellegrino, 32, is tired of hearing Norwegian criticism.

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On the first day of the tour, TV 2 expert Petter Skinstad came out strongly against the program (see fact box) in a headlined commentary Tour de Cape.

Skinstad wants the Tour’s racing program to have bigger differences as before – with “prologues, city sprints, long distances, shared starts, chase starts and lots of extra seconds”. He fears for the future of the Tour de Ski.

“Tour de Snork,” TV 2 expert Peter Northug wrote on Twitter.

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When Federico Pellegrino heard that the Tour de Ski had been called “Tour de Kjip” and criticized the programme, he shook his head.

– I’ve heard a lot from Norway in the past ten years. You win everything and every time you find something you don’t like. In my eyes, we athletes do everything we can and the best we can for each race. And if they don’t like the entertainment, change the TV channel and let others watch, Pellegrino fondly tells VG.

He is second in the abstract ten seconds behind Johannes Hosflotte-Kleibeuw after two of the seven stages.

Also last year, there were Norwegian voices who referred to the program negatively. Adressa commentator Birger Løfaldli wrote that the magic of the Tour de Ski was gone, while experts Petter Northug and Niklas Dyrhaug called for longer races.

Pellegrino categorically rejects the season’s program as dull and unspectacular.

– The only way cross-country skiing can get more exciting is if you have more complete athletes. Yes, it’s boring for, say, Hans-Christer Holland, who fails to make it into the top 30 in the sprint. But if we want to choose the most complete athlete as the Tour de Ski winner, this is the way to go. Pellegrino says this Tour de Ski program is balanced.

Simen Hegstad Krüger is among those who want more hard work and more long races in the Tour programme.

– I miss the tour as it was in the beginning. She was very elegant. You are now in the process of losing the exclusivity that the Tour de Ski had, before it was a very different and challenging ski race. It wasn’t as hard as it used to be, says Kruger.

A problem with the Tour de Ski is that many athletes choose to stop or give up during championship seasons due to stress. On the men’s side, most of the top players this year are listed, while on the women’s side big names such as Ebba Andersson, Jonah Sundling and Engfeld Vlogstad Ostberg are listed at the top.

– Tour de Ski is still running, but WC is a step away. We have to take what we get and I know there will be shorter races with work. But this is not the way I want it. I miss wear and tear, says Kruger.

Johannes Hosflott Klæbo, who leads the Tour by ten seconds to Pellegrino and Pål Golberg, is positive about the changes for next season.

– There is no point in speculating about it now, the program is set. Then you can always ask questions if it could be made more difficult. Next year, you can play with the tour as much as you like, Klæbo says, since it’s a tournament-free season.

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Swedish favorite Frida Carlson understands the program of the season, so it will be as exciting as possible.

– Sprints become important with plenty of extra seconds. They are very short runs and very hard to do. He could have suited me better with some of the longer races, Carlson says, but you want everyone to be able to fight back.

Cross Country Director Espen Bervig is open to discussing the concept.

– It sure would have been exciting with a little longer distance. There will be less room for good single runners who run well from start to finish but aren’t very good on the field, says Bjervig.

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