Simon Desthieux Captures Nove Mesto Sprint for First-ever World Cup Win
It took France’s Simon Desthieux 242 BMW IBU World Cup starts over almost nine years but today he shot clean and skied to his first-ever victory, taking the Nove Mesto na Moravě men’s 10 km sprint in 22:58. Sweden’s Sebastian Samuelsson also shot clean trailing just 2.4 seconds back. Germany’s Arnd Peiffer matched the top two on the range but finished third, 4.4 seconds back.
Long Wait for Victory
Desthieux was short of words after his first win in his World Cup career that started at Oestersund in 2012 with a 50th place in the 20 km individual. “It is fantastic; just a crazy day. Totally happy after this race, my first victory. I waited since a long, long time. This is my ninth year in biathlon; no more words.”
He later added, “It is a great moment in my career because I waited for it since a long time. I was often close to the victory but never did it. Now it is done and it is fantastic to do that. Not a lot of emotion today, less than in the Championships with the Silver medal but just very happy to be here today.”
His win came after a slow start to the season, but he stayed focused, picking up an IBU World Championships Sprint Silver medal, his first-ever individual medal last month. “My beginning was not easy but I stayed focused before the World Championships. I took the opportunity in the sprint at Pokljuka and now today a victory; fantastic to be better at the end of the season like this!”
Norwegians Sturla Holm Laegreid and Tarjei Boe, both with one penalty finished fourth and fifth, a very close 10.4 and 10.6 seconds back, respectively. Benedikt Doll of Germany also had one penalty in sixth place, 14.5 seconds back.
Norwegians Laegreid and Tarjei Lead after Prone
Full sunshine prevailed for the late afternoon men’s competition with the pesky wind remaining a factor on the shooting range. As with the women, most of the top men opted for the first or second start groups. After his prone struggles yesterday in the relay, Emilien Jacquelin shot very fast and clean to start his day. Peiffer, steady a usual did the same thing, leaving two seconds faster than his French rival. Johannes Thingnes Boe came to prone faster than anyone but missed a shot. However, his brother Tarjei clicked off five speedy perfect shots to go to the head of the field by four seconds. Samuelsson sped through the first loop and closed all five targets to put his name in the mix for a top spot, leaving third. With the door open, Laegreid cleaned quickly to control of the top of the leaderboard, a second faster than Tarjei.
Desthieux and Samuelsson
Jacquelin after skiing a fast loop missed one shot to fall from contention. The Yellow Bib tried to make up for his prone miss with another fast 3 km. loop but missed twice, putting him far from a podium spot. Brother Tarjei missed once but was just a second slower than Jacquelin out of the range. Peiffer was the first to go 10-for-10 but Desthieux coming in after a perfect prone stage, matched minutes later to take the lead with 3.3 km to go. However, Samuelsson was up to the challenge, coming to the range after another fast loop and cleaning with ease to match his French rival’s time. Laegreid like his teammates did not shoot clean, but his one penalty combined with top speed on his skis put him just .5 seconds behind Desthieux and Samuelsson.
Confident under Pressure
Samuelsson felt he reacted well when the pressure was on in the crucial standing stage. “When I was younger, I was not so strong in these situations, but I have thought a lot about this. I have pushed myself to be better in these situations. Now I have confidence, because there were so many times in the last shooting when I was fighting for something really good and managed to do it.”
Desthieux Blasts to Victory
While Peiffer had a steady last loop, Desthieux blasted through the last loop, gaining precious seconds with Samuelsson chasing close behind. The lead was just 1.9 seconds with 800 meters to go, but the tiring Samuelsson did not have enough energy to catch Desthieux, falling 2.4 seconds short of the win. Laegreid, despite being close after the standing stage faded in the last loop, slipping back to fourth, behind Peiffer in third.
“Hard to be on the podium at 33 years old!”
Peiffer with his fifth podium of the season and seventh clean shooting day admitted it is not an easy task. “Five is above my average of three per season and that is good. I have to shoot clean to be on the podium. Maybe Johannes can be on the podium or win with one mistake, but the rest of us have to shoot clean. It is important for me to shoot clean because it is hard to be on the podium at 33 years old!”
Photos: IBU/Christian Manzoni