Wire-to-Wire Win for Martin Fourcade in Ruhpolding 20K Individual
Martin Fourcade of France took the lead at the first prone stage and never ceded it in winning this afternoon’s men’s 20K individual at Ruhpolding, hitting 19-of-20 shots and crossing the finish line in 44:27.9. This was the Yellow Bib’s fourth consecutive win, dating back to the mass start in Le Grand Bornand. Ondřej Moravec of Czech Republic, shooting clean finished in a season-best second place, 1:01 back. Third went to Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe, with one penalty, 1:06.3 back.
Late starter Germany’s Roman Rees shot clean to take fourth place, 1:19.1 back. Michal Krcmar matched his teammate Moravec on the shooting range, but finished fifth, 1:36.6 back. Austria’s Dominik Landertinger finished in a season-best sixth place with one penalty, 2:21.9 back.
Sunny and Warm
A warm clear afternoon made competition conditions extremely hard for the107-man field, with the tracks soft and getting softer, especially in sunny areas as the afternoon progressed. There was a light wind on the shooting range, but as expected the shooting conditions were very good.
Fourcade Up Front
Fourcade started the day with a steady but not extremely fast prone stage to grab a very small lead over the fast shooting Erik Lesser. That set the stage for the day. Johannes matched in prone, going back to a slower tempo as he had before Christmas. In the first standing, the Yellow Bib picked up the tempo and again cleaned with ease. The Norwegian stayed in control in the first standing, shooting again a bit slower and matching Fourcade. That put him 14.5 seconds out of the top spot. Behind these two, Moravec was putting together a solid day, two clean stages with a steady tempo, putting him in the third spot, but 40 seconds behind the leader. Although more than 50 men shot clean in the first prone; after standing that group was down to less than a dozen.
Three Stages, Three Men
Fourcade, Johannes and Moravec were clearly in control after the second prone stage. Fourcade slow the tempo once again and closed all five targets. However once he hit the tracks, the tempo went up, skiing quickly and comfortably with seemingly little effort. Johannes matched again, but was now 37 seconds back. Shooting just before the top two, Moravec continued to be perfect, holding the third spot.
One Missed Shot; Smile at Finish
Everything was on the line in the final standing stage; the leader shot calmly but missed the final shot, grimacing with regret. The pressure was now on Johannes, but his fourth target failed to close and they were now both 19-for-20. “My last standing shot was not as good as the others. That is something I need to figure out what was wrong and find some way to improve.”Still the Yellow Bib had a 29-second lead, but pushed the last loop hard and crossed the finish line with a big smile. The penalty by Johannes opened the door for Moravec who had gone 20-for-20 earlier. Going into the last loop, he was in second with Johannes trailing the Czech star by almost 20 seconds. The speedy Norwegian closed the gap with each kilometer, was only 5 seconds back with 400 meters to go, but that was it and he crossed in third, behind Fourcade and Moravec.
He's got every reason to be happy - @FedFranceSki's @martinfkde might have missed the last target but he was flying across the tracks here in #RUH18 and leads in the finish. Follow the 20km Individual on https://t.co/bk5aBBaMLg pic.twitter.com/Mk7euYpitk— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 10, 2018
Motivation Hard to Find; Fourteen Podiums
Fourcade admitted today was hard. “We are in a biathlon routine now; it was hard to find strong motivation with not much recovery or training this week. It was a special situation. Today I wanted to beat my record of podiums in a row; today was my 14th in a row and I am really proud of this. I am very happy with my competition as well. Ruhpolding is place that I really love and I am happy that I continued my success here.”
Fourcade with the win tied Johannes for the individual Crystal Globe; he added, “The 20K is a competition that I truly love. You have to be focused on yourself and do your own biathlon. Today, Johannes and I tied for the Crystal Globe; we will have to figure out a custody arrangement or maybe the IBU will give us two!”
Moravec admitted today was a big deal for him. “This podium is really important for me. My first trimester was really bad; my shape was not good especially for the shooting. I also missed a lot of the summer training so did not have the best preparation…I am very please at how I was able to focus and have success in this race.”
Small Chance Tactic
Johannes knew there was only one way to win today as he approached the stadium for the final standing stage. “I heard the speaker, so I knew Martin had missed. I knew if I could shoot clean, there was a small chance I could beat him. I tried and missed. That was my tactic: to go for the win, not save the podium.”