Fillon Maillet Leads French Double in Hochfilzen Pursuit

Quentin Fillon Maillet of France cleaned the last standing stage of the Hochfilzen men’s 12.5 km pursuit to secure his first win of the season in 33:52, setting up a French double. Second place Emilien Jacquelin matched his teammate on the range with a single penalty but finished 32.1 seconds back. Sebastian Samuelsson sprinted the last 50 meters, thrusting his ski across the line to take third, 38.2 seconds back, in front of Simon Desthieux of France, with the same time.

Header iconHochfilzen Men's 12.5 km Pursuit

“Amazing day for French team”

The initial results showed a French podium sweep which surprised Fillon Maillet. “I had a great shape today and my legs felt great. I was strong in the standing shooting and trusted myself. I am very happy. I never expected to finish on the podium with my colleagues. That is an amazing day for the French team!”

However, after review of the finish line, Samuelsson was awarded the third place, spoiling the French party.

Last Standing Tactics

Fillon Maillet emphasized that he used some tactics and psychology by setting up on lane one in the last standing stage. “The strategy was to put some pressure on Johannes (Kuehn). I knew I felt very good on my skis. I took some time on Johannes during the race. I knew I wanted to be on the first (lane). I tried to be the best on the tracks to expect the victory. But you never know what happens in the last shooting…I know if I go out with clean shooting I can expect the victory. I really wanted to do a clean shooting. When Johannes missed one, I knew I could win; let’s go!”

Desthieux finished fourth 38.2 seconds back. Norway’s Tarjei Boe, also with two penalties, finished in fifth as in yesterday’s sprint, 38.7 seconds back. Sprint third placer Anton Smolski of Belarus, with two penalties, finished sixth, 41.8 seconds back.

Snowy Pursuit

Wednesday’s winter conditions returned for Saturday with light to moderate snow, virtually no shooting range wind and -2C on the thermometer for the 60-man pursuit field. The fresh snow on the tracks made skiing quite slow. Kuehn easily cleaned the first prone while Ponsiluoma missed a shot. However, Tarjei, Loginov and Jacquelin also cleaned, following in that order but 18 seconds in arrears. By the 4.1 km split, Ponsiluoma and clean-shooting Samuelsson were on the tail of the chase group.

Kuehn clean and gone

The second prone stage saw Kuehn clean and leave before any of his rivals fired their first shot. All of the next five, save Ponsiluoma cleaned but remained 20 seconds back with Jacquelin leading the group that now included Fillon Maillet. By the 6.6 km mark, the group of five had closed the gap to Kuehn down to 15 seconds, as they approached the first standing stage.

Fillon Maillet moves up

Kuehn went to 15-for-15 in the first standing stage, seemingly relaxed as he left the stadium in 12 seconds in front of Fillon Maillet, the only man of the top group to clean the stage. Behind him, teammate Desthieux, also 15-for-15 was next at 31 seconds back, while Jacquelin and Samuelsson after torus of the penalty loop trailed by another 6 seconds.

Pushing the pace, fast and clean shooting

Fillon Maillet pushed the pace, closing the gap to 2.1 seconds on the German by the 9.1 km split. The chasers remained over 30 seconds back as the field approached the final and deciding standing stage. The two leaders came into the stadium side-by-side. Fillon Maillet shot fast and clean while Kuehn imploded with three penalties. Jacquelin also went 5-for-5 to leave second but 38 seconds back. 20-for-20 Felix Leitner moved into third but 58 seconds back, with Tarjei and a huge group on his tail as they left for the last loop.

Samuelsson sprints to third place

Fillon Maillet was in total control on the last loop, picking up his first win of the season, just a week after breaking his rifle stock in Oestersund. Jacquelin was safely in second with a huge battle led by Tarjei setting up for the last podium spot. At 11.6 km, they remained tightly bunched with Tarjei and Samuelsson setting the pace. The final uphill to the finish was an all-out sprint. Tarjei had the advantage, but Desthieux dug in crashing as he dived for the finish line while Samuelsson stayed upright pushing his ski tip just ahead for third place, just ahead of his French and Norwegian rivals.

Jacquelin, “Second but I wanted to win today”

Jacquelin with second place and third podium of the season rated his day as an 18-out-of-20. “I would rate it 18 on 20; it was a good one. I am really satisfied with my shooting, nineteen is great but not perfect. How I made and constructed it, I am really satisfied; a good race for the future. Quite satisfied, I finished second but I wanted to win today. It has been a great start to the season but I have never won.”

Samuelsson back in Yellow

Samuelsson’s third place put him back in the Yellow Bib; still he was not completely satisfied. “I am happy with the start of the season. But my shooting is not where I want it to be. After the sprint yesterday (three penalties), I thought now I just have to show that I am a good shooter. That was my main focus today and I think I succeeded; two mistakes is two mistakes, but I am up there in the front, so it was a good race.”

Photos: IBU/Evgeny Tumashov, Christian Manzoni

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