Updated: Sunday, 23 February 2014 18:33 | By Agence France-Presse

Russia top Sochi medals table after 50k ski sweep

Russia guaranteed top spot in the Sochi Olympics medals table on Sunday after a clean sweep of the podium in the men's 50km cross country race.


Russia top Sochi medals table after 50k ski sweep

Russia's Maxim Vylegzhanin, Alexander Legkov and Ilia Chernousov celebrate at the finish line in the men's cross-country skiing 50km Mass Start during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014 - by Odd Andersen

Alexander Legkov won gold in the blue riband distance in 1hr 46min 55.2sec, a fraction of a second ahead of his teammates Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov, who took silver and bronze.

Only Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby could stay anywhere near the rampant Russians, coming fourth. 

With just ice hockey and bobsleigh finals to come, Russia is now certain, with 12 golds and a total of 32 medals, to top the medals table ahead of Norway.

It may yet add to its medal stock, with bobsleigh pilot Alexander Zubkov favourite to lead Russia to victory in the four-man event.

The victory in the mass start marked the realisation of the potential of Legkov, 30, for years seen as Russia's greatest cross country skier but until now without an Olympic gold.

"Yesterday lots of people said we will have the podium but I was thinking that it was a joke," said Russia's cross country skiing coach Elena Vyalbe.

"Still, I was believing in the guys and they have proved they are good enough to win," added Vyalbe, known as a tough taskmaster.

Other favourites fell by the wayside during the race, with Dario Cologna of Switzerland suffering a broken ski and coming 27th -- a huge disappointment after winning two golds at the Games.

Norway's team leader Petter Northug, who won over the same distance in a memorable race at Vancouver 2010, could only manage 18th to wrap up his medal-less Games, seen as a disaster at home.

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