PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo secured a majestic victory in the men’s 4x10km relay with a stunning late spurt as Norway won their fifth gold in eight cross-country skiing competitions at the Pyeongchang Games on Sunday.
The lead changed hands several times during a thrilling final lap as the Norwegian battled it out with Denis Spitsov, representing the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) who took silver 9.4 seconds behind, with France nabbing the bronze.
A stunning second leg by Alexander Bolshunov looked to have laid the foundations for a first gold medal for the OAR but a disastrous third leg by Alexey Chervotkin saw their lead of almost half a minute wiped out.
Norway’s skiathlon gold medallist Simen Hegstad Krueger battled his way back to the top of the field, setting up sprint champion Klaebo for a dramatic finish.
Spitsov breathed new life into the Russian challenge on the final leg as the French fell away, reeling in the leading pair and making it a two-horse race for gold.
At times Klaebo seemed to lack the power that underpinned his glorious sprint victory, passing Spitsov only for the Russian to move up the gears and stay with him, but he had no answer when the young Norwegian finally made his late break for gold.
Bare-headed on a sunny but chilly afternoon, Klaebo, the youngest member of the team by more than three years, thundered away over the final kilometre and cruised across the finish line into the arms of his ecstatic team mates.
Spitsov followed shortly afterwards, embracing his rival and congratulating him on his second gold of the Games following an epic battle, with Adrien Backscheider sliding home 36.9 seconds after the winner to take a well-deserved bronze for France.(Reuters)