By Michael Pavitt

Marit Bjøergen has won the first three stages of the Tour de Ski ©Getty ImagesNorwegian six-time Olympic champion Marit Bjøergen has continued her domination of the International Ski Federation Tour de Ski with a victory on a 1.4 kilometres sprint stage, while Federico Pellegrino of Italy won  the men's competition.

The third stage, a sprint freestyle event, was Bjoergen's third consecutive stage win and her third victory in a sprint stage at the Tour de Ski, an annual event modeled on cycling's Tour de France.

Bjøergen edged out fellow her fellow Norwegian's Heidi Weng and Ingvild Flugstad Østberg in the final heat, who were 1.97 and 2.41 seconds behind the winner respectively.

The victory means Bjøergen has added a couple more seconds onto her advantage in the overall classification and now leads the Tour by 71 seconds over Weng, with another Norwegian, Therese Johaug, lying third.

"From the prologue I had a good feeling," said Bjøergen, aiming to win the Tour de Ski for the first time.

"My goal was to make it to the final hill to gain some seconds on Therese and Heidi.

"In the final I managed to build a big gap on the big hill.

"I think I am in a good position before the Tour de Ski stages in Italy".

Petter Northug Jr was second on stage three but maintains his overall lead after his stage two victory ©Getty ImagesPetter Northug Jr was second on stage three but maintains his overall lead after his stage two victory ©Getty Images

In the men's sprint Pellegrino claimed victory by 0.18 seconds from Norwegian pair Petter Northug and Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who were separated by a photo finish, with Northug judged to have finish 0.1 ahead of his compatriot.

"Today one of my big dreams has come true - to beat Petter in the sprint final," said Pellegrino.

"I feel I am in great shape.

"I was completely focused on Petter and I forgot about Martin.

"In the last curve before the finishing straight I had a good speed and I could keep it to the finish and win".

Although finishing second on the sprint stage Northug remains the overall leader of the Tour de Ski, separated by 25.1 seconds from Sundby, with Sweden's Calle Halfvarsson in third.

"My goal was to be in the lead before the distance competitions in Italy," stated Northug.

"I tried a different strategy in the final.

"My goal was to be in the lead and to defend the position I had."

The Tour de Ski is due to continue tomorrow in Toblach with the event remaining in Italy until its conclusion at Val di Fiemme this Sunday (January 11). 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
January 2015: Bjøergen extends lead at Tour de Ski with stage two victory
January 2015: Cross country skiing legend begins push for elusive Tour de Ski victory with prologue win