Jessie Diggins continued her streak of top-three finishes at the Tour de Ski, placing third in a 10K classic pursuit Wednesday to retain the overall lead in the eight-stage event.
The Afton native overcame a fall about halfway through the race in Toblach, Italy. She rose quickly, but the stumble allowed Russia's Yulia Stupak and Sweden's Ebba Andersson to pass her. Diggins stayed close enough to mount a final push, setting up a dramatic finish as she caught Andersson and chased Stupak.
Stupak hung on to win the race in 29 minutes, 24.7 seconds, while Andersson claimed second place by 1/10th of a second over Diggins. The top three were separated by only 8/10ths of a second, with the fourth-place finisher — Rosie Brennan of the U. S. — crossing the line 16 ½ seconds after Diggins.
After five stages, Diggins leads the overall Tour standings with a cumulative time of 1:54:15, 22 seconds ahead of Brennan. The Tour resumes Friday with a 10k classic mass start, kicking off the final series of three races in three days in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
"Wow, that was a tough fight out there," Diggins said in e-mail remarks provided to the media. "I was really proud of myself for hanging tough and just gritting it out until the end. It was a good test of mental toughness for me, after a little fall and getting caught, to be able to refocus, stay calm and ski as smart and smooth as I could."
Diggins has two victories and three third-place finishes in the first five stages of the Tour de Ski. She is vying to become the first American to win the event.