Bjoergen leads Norway sweep

Eurosport - Sat, 13 Mar 20:58:00 2010

Norway's Marit Bjoergen led home compatriots Kristin Stoermer Steira and Therese Johaug to capture a clean sweep of the podium for the home nation at the cross country World Cup in Oslo.

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The trio pulled away from the pack at the half way point in the Norwegian capital and sped to the finish more than 49 seconds clear of fourth-placed Anna Haag, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Triple Olympic champion Bjoergen led the way for much of the run in before Steira took to the front with 6km left and pushed hard, trying to break her teammates and claim her second win of the season.

But the in-form Bjoergen would not be dropped and retook the lead in the final kilometre to claim her third consecutive World Cup victory in 1:24:10.8 hours with Steira 1.2 secs back in second and Johaug another 0.8 behind in third.

World Cup leader Justyna Kowalczyk was absent from Oslo but maintains a commanding lead at the top of the World Cup standings on 1736 with Slovenia's sprint specialist Petra Majdic second on 1191 and Finland's Aino-Kaisa Saarinen third on 999.

Meanwhile, Petter Northug continued the host country's success by winning the men's 50km freestyle mass start race in Oslo.

The 24-year old, who won the Olympic 50km mass start event in classical technique at Vancouver last month, out-sprinted Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer in the final 500m to strike gold in 2:09:18.5 hours.

The Italian eventually finished 2.9 seconds back while France's Vincent Vittoz dropped off the front two in the final 5km but held on for bronze, another 29.8 seconds behind.

Victory edges Northug closer to his first overall cross country crystal globe as he established a 383 point lead over second-placed Lukas Bauer with 450 points still on offer before the end of the season.

Sprints - Sunday 2.30pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and Eurosport Player

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