Poland's Kowalczyk wins 3rd Tour de Ski title

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VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) -- Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland successfully defended her Tour de Ski title despite finishing second in the final stage Sunday.

Therese Johaug of Norway won the ninth stage in 34 minutes and 17.7 seconds to finish third overall, 3 minutes 57.8 seconds behind Kowalczyk.

Kowalczyk started the 9-kilometer Free Final Climb Pursuit just 11.5 seconds ahead of main rival Marit Bjoergen. The Norwegian tested her all the way on the grueling climb up Mount Cermis.

Kowalczyk finally shook Bjoergen on the steepest part of the course and crossed the line 16.7 seconds ahead to capture her third Tour de Ski crown in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 45.0 seconds. That was 28.2 seconds ahead of Bjoergen's overall time.