Marthijn Mulder won his first Grand Prix race in Lulea, Sweden. The 23-year-old marathon skater was slightly faster than Christian Hoekstra in the final race.
It was a beautiful and emotional victory for Mulder, who has been suffering from a chronic and rare form of bone marrow cancer since 2020. Mulder is still undergoing an extensive treatment program and has to use his strength in moderation.
Mulder is not at work at NK
After sixty kilometers of skiing, Mulder and Hoekstra were still ahead, and the attack of a group of chasers, including former winners Crispin Arines and Gary Hickman, came too late on the last lap.
The Dutch championship is scheduled for Sunday, but Mulder is not participating. The winner of his first Grand Prix because of his beliefs is not Sundays.
The marathon has not been organized in Lulea for a long time, as the first edition was seven years ago. Unlike the natural ice in Austria’s Weissensee, conditions in Lulea are often harsh, with strong winds and cool temperatures.
Compared to regular seasons, this year’s competition program has been expanded with the Dutch championship and the Elfstedentocht substitute. That’s because there has been no skiing on the Austrian Weissensee this season either.
The second and third Grand Prix races are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday. The final, alternate Elfstedentocht, is on Saturday 5 March.
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