Sweden's Hellner wins men's 30-km pursuit Olympic gold

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Sweden's Marcus Hellner sprinted away from his rivals near the finish line to win the men's 30-kilometer cross-country pursuit at the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Saturday.

Hellner broke away from the leading group after entering the ski stadium to sprint alone down the final straightaway.

"It was excellent. The perfect race and I was very happy. I felt very strong," said Hellner.

"I was worried first, but when I felt the power in my arms and the strength in my legs in the end I felt very good confidence. It was pretty easy at the end."

Hellner clocked one hour 15 minutes and 11.4 seconds for his first Olympic medal. Tobias Angerer of Germany finished 2.1 seconds behind for the silver medal, and Johan Olsson of Sweden took the bronze, trailing 2.8 seconds.

Olsson jumped to a large lead, which was greater than 20 seconds at one point, but to see that evaporated within the final 10 kilometers of the race as the chasing pack upped the pace to close the gap.

"I've done a lot of mass start races and I know that when the bunch gets going, in the end they're really, really fast. I tried to have some energy left for the last hill. When they came up behind me I thought, 'I'm not going to bend down now'," said Olsson.

"I went the whole race knowing that they were going to catch up with me. I heard that there was going to be four people who were chasing me so I knew that I at least got a fifth place. I didn't really expect a medal when they caught up with me.

"I didn't want to be the first one in the final stretch because I went the wrong way in the 15 kilometres so I wanted to have others in front of me," added he.

Alexander Legkov of Russia led the chase, with only Hellner, Northug and Angerer having the abilities to keep up with his grueling pace as they shaved second after second off Olsson's lead.

Legkov seemed tired from pursuing Olsson and finished fourth.

Pre-race favorite Petter Northug of Norway had to slow up and switch one of his poles on the last lap, finishing 11th.

The race features a mass start with 15K of classical skiing before switching to freestyle for the second half.

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