January 06, 2012 (Val di Fiemme, ITA) – On the second rest day of Tour de Ski, Cologna explained what he’s been doing. “I slept until 9 am, had a blood control at 11 (everyone has to do it), went for a short training run, had lunch, now the press conference, then I’ll probably sleep a bit more, followed by a walk and get some fresh air, physio, more food at night and then sleep again”. Cologna seemed very relaxed and you wouldn’t think he had done 7 competitions in the last 8 days.
“I surely can’t relax in tomorrow’s race, and I will do my best to fight for the bonus seconds. Petter Northug will probably do everything he can to close the gap tomorrow, and I see him as by biggest contender,” Dario said. Dario describes the new tracks as harder than last year, and when the media asks him if that’s not an advantage for the strong guy he laughs and says “I think it’s been hard enough so far”.
Last year, Northug won all the five sprints for bonus seconds, but the gap between the two of them was still too big for the final climb. Dario said he would like to have at least 1 minute in front of Petter to be more or less sure he can take the win on Sunday. With the chasing group coming gathered to the finish line yesterday, the fight is more open than it was earlier though, with several strong skiers wanting to take the win. “Hellner, Manificat and Legkov are all strong skiers who I know will fight hard tomorrow. If there’s one person I fear the most for Sunday however, that will be Bauer” Dario said.
Tour de Ski has once again changed location, but Dario seemed relaxed about the whole travelling. “I think our team is more experienced than earlier, especially when it comes to all the logistics. Making sure that the check-in goes smoothly, and that we athletes pretty much can leave the car and then go straight to dinner or bed makes the travel a lot easier for us” Dario said. As an upgrade from last year, Dario has his own room this time, meaning he can sleep well without being interrupted by his team-mates. “Yeah, I’ve been sleeping by myself this time, and it’s been nice” Dario modestly said.
Dario thinks one of the reasons for him doing so well in Tour de Ski is the fact that he’s become a good all-round skier. “The fact that I’ve been in both sprint finals have definitely helped me to lead the tour. Northug has always been and still is dangerous in the sprints, but I’ve been able to keep up with him, and I’m satisfied with that”.
If Dario wins the Tour de Ski this Sunday, it will be his third straight win. He still sets the first Tour he won as the most important one and most memorable one. “When I won the first Tour I was very young and un-experienced. If I win on Sunday it will still be a great achievement for me, but compared to the two other ones, the first one will always be special to me” Dario says.
We wish Dario and all the other men good luck with the two remaining stages, may the strongest man win!