Iversen takes 50km gold for Norway after Klaebo disqualified


OBERSTDORF, Germany, Mar 7 (Reuters) - Norway's Emil Iversen took the gold in the 50km classic after his compatriot Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo was disqualified for a late clash with Russian Alexander Bolshunov in the final race of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Sunday.

Klaebo had outsprinted Bolshunov on the home straight, but after a long committee meeting to review the incident in which Bolshunov broke his ski pole in two places as he tried to shut out the Norwegian, Klaebo was disqualified.

As a result, Iversen was declared the winner, with Bolshunov awarded the silver and Norway's Simon Kruger taking bronze.

The result means the dominant Norwegians will take home an incredible total of 31 medals - 13 gold, 11 silver and seven bronze - from the championships. Next in the table is host nation Austria, with seven medals.

The field remained tight through the first 30km with few serious efforts to push the pace in the uncertain weather conditions, but a change of skis for Olympic champion Iivo Niskanen coincided with a group of 17 breaking away.

That group was whittled down to six as they entered the final 10km but again there was no breakaway and the stage was set for one final lung-bursting sprint.

Bolshunov held the lead expertly as he came around the bend into the final climb and this time Klaebo could not pass on the uphill section -- one of his favourite places to attack.

Instead Klaebo, better-known for his sprint and relay racing than his long-distance prowess, made his move on the final straight, slipping into the outside lane and powering forward.

Any chance Bolshunov had of holding off the challenge disappeared as his ski pole snapped in two places. However, an immediate appeal was successful as Klaebo, who won three gold medals at the championships, was disqualified for obstruction.

Norway appealed against that decision but the committee stood firm, Norwegian broadcaster NRK reported, adding the case could be taken to the FIS appeal commission within 72 hours.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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