Martin Fourcade doubles up with Ruhpolding pursuit win
Martin Fourcade assured a Ruhpolding sprint/pursuit double this afternoon when he cleaned the first standing stage of the men’s pursuit while teammate Quentin Fillon Maillet went to the penalty loop. That gave Fourcade, who shot clean a lead that turned into a 31:26.8 victory. He remains undefeated in individual competitions in 2020. Fillon Maillet with that one penalty finished second, 17.6 seconds back. Third place went to Norway’s Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen, also with one penalty, 46 seconds back.
Not Many Opportunities to Lead
Fourcade commented on taking the lead that turned into victory. “I had not many opportunities to take the lead, so when he missed, I tried my best. I am so lucky, so satisfied that I succeeded and cleaned the last stage. It was a lot of emotions. It was the kind of situation that does not happen often. I am really satisfied and proud when it happens like that.”
Celebratory Fist Pump
On his celebratory fist pump after he closed target number 20, he added, “It is what is deep inside you that is going out. Sometimes people can feel I am a bit arrogant when I do like that but it is just too much adrenalin that is going out in an uncontrolled way.”
The French men had another strong showing with Simon Desthieux, with one penalty in fourth, 46.1 seconds back and Emilien Jacquelin in sixth, also with one penalty, 1:04.9 back. Germany’s Benedikt Doll finished fifth, with one penalty, 52.2 seconds back.
By the time the men started, the earlier snow had stopped and the tracks were much faster. With the wind flags totally flat, Fourcade and Fillon Maillet matched each other shot-for-shot in the first prone stage, with the Yellow Bib leaving the stadium about 5 meters ahead of his teammate. Doll, Desthieux and Christiansen all matched, but were 17.8, 20 and 21 seconds back of the two leaders.
Shooting in Unison
Fillon Maillet aggressively took the lead in the middle of the second loop, with Fourcade just on his shoulder. By the time they reached the second prone, Fourcade had reassumed the lead. They again shot in unison, with Fillon Maillet just a hair faster. Doll shot quick and clean to go out in third with Desthieux and Christiansen right behind after their own 5-for-5’s; the trio now was 22 seconds off the lead.
19.5 Second Lead
Heading to the first standing stage, the leaders picked up the pace, battling each other while putting pressure on their pursuers. The first standing was a repeat of the prone stages for four shots, until Fourcade closed the fifth target and Fillon Maillet missed his last shot. Suddenly, the Yellow Bib had a 19.5 second lead over his teammate. Desthieux and Christiansen went to 15-for-15, now only 10 seconds out of second.
Breathing Room and Victory
Fourcade extended his lead to more than 25 seconds over the next 2.5 km loop, giving him a bit of breathing room. All alone in the last standing stage, the targets closed one-by-one. When the last one closed, Fourcade gave a fist pump and left for a victory loop. His teammate cleaned to secure second. A battle for the last podium spot then erupted as Doll cleaned while his Norwegian and French rivals went to the penalty loop. They skied tactically together with Desthieux leading the train with 800 meters to go. Desthieux and Christiansen pulled away from the German and battled into the stadium, sprinting to the line where the Norwegian lunged to take third place.
Christiansen commented, “I tend to end up in a sprint with a French guy these days. It was a tough last loop. With Doll with us on the last loop, a lot of spectators were going crazy. I knew Desthieux was strong in the sprint; I wanted to be first into the stadium…He also wanted that; there was only one lane that was fast…it was an exciting finish.”
Fillon Maillet said there was no plan today. “We just went out to ski the first loop and I worked together with Martin…We made a very good job together to make a gap on the back of the race. After one miss; I know that Martin is very strong on shooting this week. I could not miss one bullet and keep the lead. It was a nice fight; I am very happy to share this podium with Martin and the French team…”
Photos: Evgeny Tumashov