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World Cup leader Johannes Klaebo decides not to race 15km, gives starting spot away to team-mate

World Cup leader Klaebo decides not to race 15km, gives starting spot away to team-mate

27/02/2019 at 20:26Updated 27/02/2019 at 21:49

World Cup leader Johannes Klaebo did not participate in the 15km at the Nordic Ski World Championships on Wednesday, instead electing to give his spot away to team-mate Sjur Roethe.

Klaebo, 22, is far better over the shorter distances and was struggling a bit with injury prior to the championships.

30-year-old Roethe by contrast shone in the 30km skiathlon, taking gold ahead of Russia’s Alexander Bolshunov in a dramatic finish.

The head coach of the Norwegian team, Eirik Myhr Nossum, spoke to Eurosport before the event and explained the 22-year-old Klaebo’s decision.

“It’s an impressive decision from our young athlete. He decided together with his coach and the sprint team that he probably wasn’t able to be in the podium today and he gave away his spot to the one he thought would be strong enough to do that.

" I’m very happy for Sjur and I’m very impressed by the decision from Johannes."

Eurosport expert Devon Kershaw added: “Personally I think it’s a great course for Sjur Roethe, especially in this heat if it gets really loose and soft.

“Sjur Roethe is a world champion yes but he’s not the biggest guy in this field and that will really help him when the track gets really loose and really soft, it really favours a smaller, lighter athlete, kicking less hard so you don’t go right down to the middle of the earth. You stay a little and float a little better so I think it’s going to be a great race for Sjur today.”

Bolshunov, currently sitting second in the World Cup standings, came into the event as one of the favourites, alongside the defending champion Iivo Niskanen.

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