Fillon Maillet Wire-to-Wire in Kontiolahti Pursuit

France’s Quentin Fillon Maillet continued to dominate pursuits, hitting every shot until his last one but going wire-to-wire to the Kontiolahti men’s 12.5 km pursuit in 32:55, giving the French star his sixth pursuit win of the season. Germany’s Erik Lesser shot clean in a season best second place, 8.2 seconds back. Today’s podium was the first for the German since a third place also in Kontiolahti in November 2020. Italy’s Lukas Hofer after a last loop battle with Lesser finished third, also a season best, 9.5 seconds back with one penalty.

Header icon2022 BMW IBU World Cup Kontiolahti Men's Pursuit

First Crystal Globe for Quentin

Fillon Maillet’s victory gave him the World Cup Pursuit Score Crystal Globe, the first crystal trophy of his career. “That is official? That is very great. Having a victory in the pursuit is very good. It was very hard on skis; my shape is not so good compared to Emilien. I know I must be the best on the shooting range...I stayed focused...Maybe some stress on the last mistake but I did not know how Emilien would shoot, but (otherwise) it was very good." “I sleep a lot!” With another sprint/pursuit double, Fillon Maillet extended his lead in the World Cup Total Score to 756 points to Jacquelin’s 582. Regarding how he managed to stay in top form all season, the Yellow Bib replied, “I sleep a lot!”

Emilien Jacquelin of France, with two penalties, faded in the last loop to finish fourth, 22.6 seconds back. Norwegian teammates Vetle Sjaastad Christiansen and Sturla Holm Laegreid, with zero and two penalties finished fifth and sixth, 31.9 and 51.1 seconds back, respectively.

Fillon Maillet, protecting the lead

Conditions remained good for the men’s pursuit, the final competition of the weekend in Kontiolahti. Fillon Maillet in Yellow and Red started aggressively protecting his lead. Filip Fjeld Andersen held second into the first prone stage, with a huge pack just 10 second behind him. Five perfect shots, lead secured and Fillon Maillet was gone. Jacquelin cleaned very fast going out second with the also clean Andersen in third, 18 and 23 seconds back. Kuehn, Hofer and Lesser followed 30-40 seconds back.

Jacquelin Closes the Gap

Jacquelin was as aggressive as his teammate in the next loop, closing the gap to less than 10 seconds by the second prone stage. Both quickly cleaned again; Jacquelin lost some time setting up on the mat but still got away just 7 seconds back. Many of the chasers missed shots but Lesser cleaned for the second time, moving to third, but 42 seconds back. Christiansen and Leitner, also clean moved into fourth and fifth, 46 and 50 seconds back.

Fillon Maillet goes to 15-for-15

Fillon Maillet was hunted down by his teammate over the next 2.5 km, with Jacquelin on his shoulder into the first standing. Both shot very fast, but the Yellow Bib went to 15-for-15 while his rival missed a shot, falling 19 seconds back. Hofer after a second prone miss, came back with a clean standing stage, going into third position but 51 seconds back, just ahead of Christiansen and Lesser at 52 and 59 seconds out of the podium spot.

The leader added to his gap on the seemingly tiring Jacquelin as they came to the final standing stage, upping it to 31 seconds. Fillon Maillet looked like he would hit all twenty shots until he shot wide right on the last one. Jacquelin again was lightening fast but missed his second shot, ceding 25 seconds to Fillon Maillet. Hofer, Christiansen and Lesser all cleaned, heading into the last loop at 32, 42 and 37 seconds back, setting up what looked like a battle for the last place on the podium.

Lesser Sprints to Second

Fillon Maillet had the win securely in hand, coming to the finish waving a mini French flag. However, Jacquelin continued to tire with the Hofer-led chasers catching him. Coming up the Wall, Hofer and Lesser both passed Jacquelin very fast. The duo battled in the last 700 meters with the German veteran going a half meter lead. As they sprinted down the last 50 meters, Hofer’s ski pole seemed to slip, giving Lesser the final advantage and second place.

Teamwork key to Lesser’s podium

Lesser has been good in pursuits all season but this one was special as it was based on real teamwork. “Somehow this season I had really good pursuits. I am happy to shoot clean and fight against the best on the last lap and to beat them. I am very happy for my team. We only had two service guys (after positive Covid-19 tests) left since Saturday morning and the coaches and even the doctor had to test the skis and we made it. We had perfect skis Saturday and Sunday. That is the crowning of this success. I am happy to be on the podium. It is always a goal for me once in a year.”

Hofer, “Honor to lose against him (Lesser)”

Hofer like Lesser had his first podium of the season, coming on the heels of his near-miss fourth place in the Olympic Pursuit. His feeling about being finally on the podium was “nothing other than being happy with this performance. I felt well on the shooting range in the past days. I had a really good feelings on the skis and today it worked together…I lost the final sprint to Erik but it is an honor to lose against him.” Regarding his Olympic disappointment, he added, “After the Olympic pursuit, there was a moment when I was really sad about it. I needed some days to recognize that everything I did was right and I did everything possible and it was not enough for the podium, the medal.”

Photos; IBU/Christian Manzoni

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