The Associated Press - Tuesday Dec. 31, 2013 12:10 ET

Alex Harvey retains lead after latest Tour de Ski stage

American Simeon Hamilton wins Tuesday's race

Alex Harvey
Martin Johnsrud Sundby (gauche), Simeon Hamilton (centre) et Alex Harvey (droite)
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American cross-country skier Simeon Hamilton announced himself as a possible medal contender for the Sochi Olympics by winning a men's freestyle sprint Tuesday for his first career Tour de Ski stage victory.

Hamilton held off Canada's Alex Harvey and Martin Johnsrud Sundby on the final straight in Lenzerheide, Switzerland for his first podium finish in any World Cup event.

"I didn't think I had it until I was like five feet across the line," Hamilton said. "I just focused on skiing through the finish."

Harvey, 25, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., still leads the overall Tour standings with four races remaining.

He shrugged off a 24th in the qualifying round.

"I have three sprint podiums in my career and I have qualified in the 20’s every time so I know when you get into the heats, and the gun goes off, it is a fresh start,” said Harvey. “My tactics were perfect all day. I wanted to leave a little gap at the top of the last hill, but still be close enough to carry the draft. I was able to do that and generated a huge amount of speed around the final corner into the finish stretch."

Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., is eighth in the overall standings, after finishing 56th on Tuesday.

Harvey and Kershaw went 1-2 in the opening stage in Oberhof, Germany last week.

"Outside the world championships and Olympics, the Tour de Ski is the next biggest thing for us," said Harvey. "I can take a lot of confidence into the Olympics this year knowing that I have been able to get on the podium when the lights are shining and everyone is racing in their top form."

In the women's sprint on Tuesday, Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg beat fellow Norwegian Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen to take the overall Tour lead from their countrywoman Marit Bjoergen, who failed to reach the final.

Denise Herrmann of Germany was third.

Perianne Jones of Almonte, Ont., was 39th, six spots ahead of Daria Gaiazova of Canmore, Alta.

The Tour de Ski continues at the same locale on Wednesday. The seven-race event, part of the overall World Cup, ends Sunday in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

— With files from

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