Martin Fourcade keeps up dominant start to season with Nove Mesto sprint victory

Martin Fourcade keeps up dominant start to season with Nove Mesto sprint victory

Martin Fourcade claimed victory in the opening race at the Nove Mesto Biathlon World Cup meet, winning the men's Sprint

Tom Hiscott

Martin Fourcade made it three wins from three in Sprint events during the 2016/17 season with a close victory in Nove Mesto at the Biathlon World Cup over 10km.

Starting 31st, Fourcade was forced to chase down a couple of fast starters who had begun before him in the staggered start, but did just enough to claim the win by less than two seconds from Anton Shipulin

The Frenchman has now won five individual races this season from a possible six, and with a pair of relay victories over the past two weekends he is already up to seven wins in what has been a dominant start to his campaign. 

Shipulin sets the pace with pair of clear rounds

Both Russian's male and female Biathletes have made impressive starts to the season across the board, and that continued in the opening race at the Nove Mesto meet.

After the Czech crowd had cheered on Michal Krčmář who was the ninth starter of the evening to a clear prone shoot on the range, Shipulin set the fastest time heading out of the range after also hitting five targets from five. 

Chasing Andrejs Rastorgujevs projected winning time of 23.14.9, Shipulin's second clear round of the day on the standing shoot saw him head for home and allowed him to overhaul the Latvian who had missed one shot by 14 seconds. 

Fourcade manages to claim win despite single miss on the range

Aiming to maintain his unbeaten start in Sprint's this season, Fourcade eased round the early stages of the course, hitting five from five in the prone position and looked well on his way to victory heading to the range for the second time. 

Disaster struck though, and his fourth shot went narrowly wide of the target, leaving him with a 300metre penalty loop which left him 15 seconds behind Shipulin with one lap remaining.

The Frenchman was up against it but his superior skiing speed saw him cut the gap to two seconds with less than a kilometre to go, and once Emil Hegle Svendsen had finished 4.5 seconds behind Shipulin it became apparent Fourcade was skiing toward a likely victory. 

The broad smile which adorned Fourcade's face over the final 20 metres said it all, and by the time he crossed the line 1.4 seconds quicker than his nearest rival he knew he had claimed his seventh win of the young season.

Svendsen claimed third ahead of his Norweigan teammate Johannes Thinges Bø, with Bulgaria's Vladimir Iliev claiming a suprising fifth-placed finish. 

The women are in Sprint action on Friday over 7.5km with home favourite Gabriela Koukalova still looking to make her mark this season before Fourcade will lead the men off in Saturday's 12.5km Pursuit as the Nove Mesto leg of the World Cup continues.