Fourcade Cleans Standing Stages; Cruises to Pursuit Win
France’s Martin Fourcade sealed his first victory in the men’s 12.5K pursuit this afternoon with two fast clean standing stages after missing a single prone shot in the first stage. He finished in 29:14.6, 49.2 seconds ahead of Slovenia’s Jakov Fak, with two penalties. This was Fak’s first podium since March 2015. Third place went to Quentin Fillon Maillet, also with two penalties, 50.1 seconds back.
Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway finished fourth, with three penalties, 58.2 seconds back. Local favorite Fredrik Lindström also with three penalties was fifth, 58.9 seconds back and Lars Helge Birkeland of Norway was sixth, with one penalty, 1:02.8 back.
Three in Front
Just after the start, Tarjei, Fourcade and Erik Lesser came together to create a small train at the head of the field. Fourcade took lane 1 for the first prone. He and Tarjei both picked up a penalty, while Lesser had four, allowing Svendsen and Dolder to lead out of the stadium, just ahead of Rastorgujevs. Svendsen had a penalty in the second prone, missing the final shot. Fourcade and Tarjei cleaned to leave the range 1-2.with Svendsen, Dolder and Lindström next but 17.9 seconds back.
Fourcade Picks Up Pace
Heading to the first standing stage, Fourcade picked up the pace, opening a gap on Tarjei and the rest of the field. The two leaders lined up side-by-side for the first standing stage. Fourcade shot aggressively and cleaned while Tarjei had three penalties. No one else could match as the wind flags fluttered, hampering shooting. 40 seconds later, Fillon Maillet left in second with Fak and Simon Fourcade following. Fourcade commented, “I must say that I was very surprised because after the third shooting it was more a fight against myself. I am very satisfied about the biathlon I showed.”
Battle for Second
Fourcade continued to stretch his lead, trying to leave nothing to chance in his quest for victory. He shot aggressively once again, hit all five, looked at the crowd and left with the win in his pocket. Fillon Maillet and Fak each had a podium but left in second and third, 1:05.7 and 1:06.8 back. Lindström, Birkeland and Svendsen were next but 10 seconds behind. Fak pulled away on the last two short uphills and sprinted to the finish line in second, followed by Fillon Maillet in third.
Happier with a Win
Fourcade admitted that he wanted a win to go with his two other podiums. “I am very satisfied because despite my 2 podiums here, I felt that if I had not won here, it would have been my worst season opener, since for 7 years in a row I won here. Now I can be very calm and relaxed for the next competitions.”
Fak gave credit to Fillon Maillet for his work in their battle. “I think Quentin and I worked well together, half the loop each pushing to keep on the podium. Both can be very satisfied about finishing on the podium and leaving Sweden with this result.”
Back and Healthy
Fak virtually missed all last season, but now is fully healthy, “I am very happy because last season I came to Östersund and then fell sick, only starting in Ruhpolding but only because of the pressure from the federation…I am happy to be healthy now and back here. I have had one of the best summer trainings ever, missing only 5 days just right before starting here, but now I am healthy and I can't really wait for the next races to come.”
Fillon Maillet’s second podium was beyond his expectations, admitting Fak helped him. “I am very surprised, because I did not expect to make two podiums in the season and I did it on the same event. I must say thanks to Jakov because he helped me to stay on the podium and I can only congratulate him for being faster than me in the finish eventually.”