Cross-Country

CBC Sports - Saturday Jan. 4, 2014 09:15 ET

Alex Harvey slips to 4th at Tour de Ski, pulls out of last event

Canadian finishes 5th in Stage 6 event

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Alex Harvey skis during the men's 10-kilometre classical race at the cross country Tour de Ski competition, in Val di Fiemme, Italy, on Saturday. (Giovanni Auletta/Associated Press)
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Alex Harvey of Quebec finished his journey at the cross country Tour de Ski a day early, with a fifth-place finish in the 10km classical race on Saturday in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Harvey, of St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que., announced that he will not compete in the final event on Sunday.

Harvey sits fourth overall after the Stage 6 event, won by Norway's Petter Northug Jr. in a time of 24 minutes, 45.6 seconds.

In second place was tour leader Martin Johnsrud Sundby, of Norway, 9.7 seconds back while Chris Jespersen was 16.0 back, completing the Norwegian sweep of the podium and bumping Harvey down the overall standings.

Harvey finished Saturday's race in 25:21.1.

“It was pretty messy weather today but overall my skis were good and I felt good the whole way,” Harvey said in a release. “I started aggressive and fought for the podium the whole way. I think I paced things well and attacked where I needed too which is key to an individual start.”

Ivan Babikov of Canmore, Alta., was 27th and Devon Kershaw of Sudbury, Ont., was 52nd.

Gruelling climb

The Tour de Ski concludes on Sunday with a 9km pursuit race, but Harvey will not be at the starting line of the gruelling climb up Alpe de Cermis, which he says wreaks havoc with an artery in his leg.

“For me it was pretty clear before the Tour started that I wasn’t going to climb that hill,” Harvey said,. “Being in the lead and the top-three for the Tour opened the door to thinking about it, but there is just so much to lose for me physically when the blood flow shuts down completely when I’m working so hard. 

"We don’t know exactly how long it takes to recover, and I just don’t want to risk anything especially with the Olympics coming up.”

Harvey has completed the event before, but also pulled out of that same stage in last year's competition.

Norwegians dominate on women's side

Norwegians are also commanding the women's race, with two-time runner-up Therese Johaug winning a 5K classical stage to cut into the lead of countrywoman Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen. 

Johaug timed 13 minutes, 58.4 seconds to finish 14.9 seconds ahead of Jacobsen, with Anne Kyllonen of Finland third, 19.2 back. 

In the overall, Jacobsen's lead over Johaug was sliced to 23.8 seconds, with Kyllonen 1:31.5 back. 

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