Last Loop Comeback: Johannes Thingnes Boe Wins Ruhpolding Mass Start
Norway’s Johannes Thingnes Boe came off the penalty loop after the last standing stage eight seconds from the lead, but with a stirring comeback, skied to a 36:43.8 victory in the Ruhpolding 15K mass start this afternoon. Austria’s Julian Eberhard, with two penalties finished second, .6 seconds back. Quentin Fillon Maillet of France, with one penalty finished third, 2.8 seconds back.
Johannes’ Hat Trick
Today’s win gave Johannes a Ruhpolding hat trick, but at one point, he was jst hoping to make the podium. “I felt quite focused and confident before the race today and had a good feeling for the 19 first shots. Then made a mistake together with the others and then the race was totally open. Of course then, I was thinking about making the podium, not the win. You have to try; it is great to have this hat trick here in Ruhpolding…the less the margin, the better the win. When it is really tight; it is 100% for first place; I have so much respect for the others…”
Ruhpolding Men's Mass Start
Fillon Maillet’s teammate Martin Fourcade, also with one penalty finished fourth, 8.6 seconds back. Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen of Norway, with one penalty finished fifth, 9.9 seconds back, while a third French athlete Simon Desthieux, with two penalties, finished sixth, 25 seconds back
Sunshine, Blue Skies
Sunshine, blue skies, minus 5 Celsius and the typical lively, singing cheering crowd were the mid-day scene for the thirty men going head-to-head in their final appearance this year in Ruhpolding.
The first loop in a mass start is always tactical, Fourcade and Johannes immediately jumped right to the front to set the tempo, while controlling the field behind them. Nineteen men cleaned the first prone, led by the lightening-fast Simon Eder and his teammate Eberhard. Boe and Fourcade both cleaned cautiously, leaving 5th and 16th, part of this huge group, all within 14 seconds of Eder.
Eder Strikes Again
Midway through the second loop, Benedikt Doll attacked, moving to the head of the pack, but shaking no one. Johannes regained control to shoot the second prone on lane 1. Eder again blew through the five targets to lead the pack of now thirteen clean shooters out of the stadium, all within 10 seconds.
What a dramatic final loop but at the end @7ohannesbo pushes to his 9th victory of this winter ahead of @OESVbiathlon's Julian Eberhard and @FedFranceSki's @quentinfillon!— IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 20, 2019
You can rewatch the men's mass start on https://t.co/bk5aBBso9Q #RUH19 pic.twitter.com/TtHS9E45fb
Johannes and Fourcade
Just as quickly, Johannes moved to the front with his French rival on his shoulder. They battled over the whole loop into the first standing. Still, a pack of ten came to the stadium intact. Johannes cleaned quickly to take a very small lead over Eberhard and Tarjei. Fourcade, shooting extremely cautiously was 8 seconds back, with Simon Desthieux, Ondrej Moravec and Michal Krcmar, all also clean, just behind.
Comeback; Deciding Last Loop
The trio staged a huge comeback, pulled even and passed the leaders on the biggest hill with 1K to go; only Fillon Maillet stayed in contact. Johannes was confident about retaking the lead, “I knew we were going to catch them, because I was racing with Julian and Martin.” With 800 meters to go, Johannes took control, dropping Fourcade with Eberhard and Fillon Maillet still battling for the win. On the last bridge before the stadium, the Yellow/Red Bib proved to the strongest, skiing away for win number 9, followed by Eberhard and Fillon Maillet.
In the Race
Eberhard was able to overcome two penalties with his ski speed. “I saw that I had really good skis today so I was able to close the gap after the second shooting (one penalty). From that point on, I knew I was in the race. It was close at the end, but I am really happy with second place.”
Mass Start Love
Fillon Maillet excels in the mass start with five of his 11 career podiums in it. “I love this race (mass start).I love to be in the fight. It was a good day and a good race for me.”