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France clinch season-opening biathlon mixed relay World Cup

France clinch season-opening biathlon mixed relay World Cup
By Sportsbeat

02/12/2018 at 16:54Updated 02/12/2018 at 17:02

Clean shooting from Martin Fourcade helped Olympic champions France claim the opening biathlon mixed relay IBU World Cup of the season in Pokljuka with a dominant showing.

The French quartet of Fourcade, Simon Desthieux, Anais Bescond and Justin Braisaz triumphed in 1:10:02.8, using five spare rounds, with the Swiss team clinching an historic second place.

Switzerland's Benjamin Weger matched Fourcade's clean shoot as his team finished runners-up, 38.7 seconds back using nine spares, while Olympic bronze medallists Italy were third.

The Italians had stormed out of the blocks thanks to a strong leadoff leg from Lisa Vittozzi, while Finland, who led the way in the early stages, eventually finished in fifth, 1:30.9 back.

Russia were just edged out of the medal positions by Italy, finishing 1:17.3 back in fourth, while Norway completed the top six as they crossed the finish line 1:51.1 behind.

Reflecting on a first ever podium finish for Switzerland in the mixed relay, team member Jeremy Finello said: "I have three really good teammates and they did really good work.

"At the end I just gave my best and I'm really happy we managed to finish in second place."

Earlier, in the single mixed relay, the Norwegian duo of Thekla Brun-Lie and Lars Helge Birkeland came out on top in the season opener, using just four spare rounds in the 38:26.7 victory.

Austria's Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder claimed second place, finishing 8.5 seconds behind with five spares, while Ukraine's Anastasiya Merkushyna and Artem Tyshchenko in third.

Tyshchenko's accurate shooting, the best of the competition, helped Ukraine finish 20.7 seconds back with one spare round, with France the next best placed of the 25 teams.

Anais Chevalier and Antonin Guigonnat were 30.3 seconds behind Ukraine, while Sweden finished in fifth, 35.5 seconds back, and Canada took sixth position, 37.8 seconds back.

Canada's Megan Bankes, who was teamed up with Christian Gow, said: "It's my first single mixed relay so I was really excited to go out and get this result, it was a lot of fun."

Gow added: "It's always nervous for the first race to see the shape and how you're going to handle the pressure with the shooting, but I think we did a pretty good job."