Moscow & Rybinsk World Cups

The next city sprint in the World Cup circuit was held in Moscow, Russia. Three Australian athletes took part in the sprint- Esther Bottomley, Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg. The conditions for the sprint were cold with cold, dry snow making times slower and the field spread out.

Esther Bottomley finished 54th in the women’s time trial, with the final event being won by Poland’s Justyna Kowalcyz. Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg finished 63rd and 64th respectively, equal to the bib numbers they wore on the start line. Teodor Peterson of Sweden was the men’s final winner.

Coach Finn Marsland said, “I had high expectations for this event that were not met. The location was great but the crowd was disappointing, and unfortunately all three of our athletes there picked up a minor cold as we left Austria. It was very cold and slow snow, which helped to spread out the time gaps.”

After the sprint in Moscow, Callum Watson and Mark Van der Ploeg headed for Rybinsk to contest the 15km Freestyle Mass Start event there. Conditions were also cold in Rybinsk, with the race held at -18 degrees on very dry, slow snow. The course was held next to a scenic frozen lake, approximately 30 minutes out of Rybinsk. Finn Marsland commented, “In contrast to Moscow the atmosphere in Rybinsk was incredible. Great crowds and carnival feel, despite -20 degrees in the middle of nowhere.”

“The boys recovered quickly from their colds and skied reasonably well in the 15km. Callum would have liked to have hung with the main pack for longer but he didn’t quite have the extra gear. It was a good effort from Mark to avoid being overlapped on the 2.5km loop.”

Callum Watson finished in 59th place, 5:43 minutes off the race winner Canadian Devon Kershaw. Mark Van der Ploeg was next in 60th.

The team is currently completing an altitude training block in Livigno, Italy. Some of the athletes will then move to Erzurum, Turkey for the World Junior & Under 23 Championships.

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