Angerer, Neumannova new champions of mass start races

Tobias Angerer of Germany and Katerina Neumannova of the Czech Republic won mass start World Cup races Saturday, showing an impressive form one month ahead of the Olympic Games in Turin. World Cup leader Angerer secured his fourth win of the season, edging Russian Evgenji Dementiev and Italy's Pietro Piller Cottrer in a three-way sprint to the finish line in the men's 30-kilometer freestyle race.

Neumannova captured the women's 15-kilometer freestyle with a solo finish for her third win of the season and 17th World Cup career triumph. Angerer fought off an attack by Piller Cottrer in the last kilometer and sprinted ahead of the Italian on the final straight. The winner clocked 1 hour, 14 minutes, 49.3 seconds. Dementiev, who also edged Piller Cottrer on the line, was 0.3 seconds back. The Italian, who at one time led by five seconds, was third, 0.6 behind Angerer. Emmanuel Jonnier of France was fourth, Italy's Giorgio Di Centa finished fifth and Sweden's Andres Soedergren was sixth.

Angerer has 585 points overall, 130 ahead of second-place Tore Arne Hetland of Norway. In the women's race, Neumannova beat Julija Tchepalova of Russia by 13.9 seconds and Norway's Marit Bjoergen by 22.9 seconds. The Czech will be aiming for three Olympic gold medals next month after clinching two silvers at Salt Lake City four years ago.

Bjoergen's third place kept her atop the World Cup overall standings with 645 points after 13 races. Tchepalova is second with 540, Germany's Claudia Kuenzel is third with 417 and Neumannova moved to fourth with 390. Tchepalova led the race through the 12th kilometer, when Neumannova attacked at an uphill section and quickly opened a gap.

Beckie Scott of Canada and Estonia's Kristina Smigun, who are among the favorites for Olympic cross country medals, did not compete at Val di Fiemme. The two-day Italian meet continues with relay events on Sunday. The next World Cup round is at Oberstdorf, Germany, on Jan. 14-15, reports the AP. N.U.