The Associated Press - Wednesday Jan. 1, 2014 16:00 ET

Alex Harvey drops to 3rd at Tour de Ski

Skier 'feeling good' despite 40th-place finish

Alex Harvey
Alex Harvey is enjoying a strong start to the Tour de Ski, a critical competition prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics. (Jens Meyer/The Associated Press)

Canadian Alex Harvey dropped to third overall at Tour de Ski on Wednesday after finishing 40th in the 15-kilometre classical mass-start race.

Alexey Poltoranin of Kazakhstan had the strongest finish to win, while Kerttu Niskanen of Finland won the women's 10K event.

Poltoranin held off Hannes Dotzler of Germany and Stanislav Volzhentsev of Russia to win in 34 minutes 28.1 seconds. Dotzler was 0.4 seconds back, with Volzhentsev one second behind.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby of Norway took the overall Tour lead with three races remaining.

Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., was leading heading into Wednesday's race following a win in the opening prologue and a silver in Tuesday's sprint.

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., was the top Canadian, finishing 19th after starting in 75th position. Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., was 47th.

"That was a great day for Ivan," said Justin Wadsworth, head coach of the Canadian cross-country ski team. "It is not good to make excuses, but Alex and Devon just didn't feel like the skis were good today. Their shape hasn't gone anywhere and the guys are feeling good."

In the women's race, Niskanen beat three Norwegians on the final straight to win in 26:27.4. Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen was 0.4 back, with Therese Johaug 1.1 behind.

Triple Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen had to withdraw from the Tour because of an illness, while standings leader Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg is skipping the remaining long-distance races to prepare for the next World Cup sprint events.

Daria Gaiazova, of Banff, Alta., was the lone Canadian to start and placed 59th. Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont., did not start.

The seven-stage series will conclude Sunday in Italy.

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