France Dominates Men’s Relay
France, with Jean Guillaume Beatrix, Quentin Fillon Maillet, Simon Desthieux, and Martin Fourcade won the first men's relay of the season in 1:11:56 using two spares. Russia was second, 15.7 seconds back with one penalty and six spares. Third went to Germany, 21.5 seconds back with 11 spares.
Perfect Day for France
The French squad was perfect today; taking the lead at the second exchange, and never relinquishing it, as they pulled away from the field of 22 teams.
Leadoff leg Beatrix commented, “When we started the relay, we thought that winning was possible. At the same time, the competition was very tough. There were many strong teams today.”
Simon Desthieux was satisfied with his performance. “I was very happy to tag Martin with a 20 seconds lead. This is good for my confidence.”
Germany: Back in Contention
German leadoff leg Erik Lesser had a good first loop, but struggled with shooting, using five spares in his leg, dropping down to ninth. Benedikt Doll brought Germany back into contention with his powerful skiing. “I went maximum speed on the tracks, so I needed some spares on the shooting range. I think altitude works well for me.”
Matthias Dorfer ended his World Cup debut on the podium. “Today is like a dream come true. I was very happy to have a chance to run in this relay, and here I am – on the podium.”
Consistency for Russia
Russia dominated the first half of competition, with strong legs by Maxim Tsvetkov and Anton Babikov. Matvey Eliseev’s prone added drama, using all three spares; he then had to go to the penalty loop. He recovered in standing and was back battling for the podium, tagging Shipulin in fourth. The anchor leg was familiar battle of the big names: Fourcade, Shipulin and Schempp.
Babikov, the IBU Rookie of the year thinks his team is getting better with each competition. “I see progress with each competition. We are getting better. It’s important to hit the podium more and more.”