Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic and Virpi Kuitunen of Finland have won the opening races of the second annual Tour de Ski cross-country skiing competition in Nove Mesto, the Czech Republic.
In the men's 4.5 km classical style race, Bauer, a silver medalist at the Turin Olympics, won in 11 minutes, 15.6 seconds. Germany's Axel Teichmann was second, one second back. Norway's Odd-Bjoern Hjelmeset was third (11:18.9).
In the women's 3.3 km classical style race, Kuitunen, the defending tour champion, won in nine minutes, 22.8 seconds. Compatriot Aino Kaisa Saarinen was second 0.70 seconds back with Poland's Justyna Kowalczyk third, 1.9 seconds behind the winner.
The competition continues at Nove Mesto Saturday. The Tour de Ski moves to Prague Sunday and then back to Nove Mesto on January first and second. The Tour then goes to Asiago for competition on January fourth and then ends in Val di Fiemme, Italy January fifth and sixth. The overall time winner receives 400 World Cup points.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP.