Quentin Fillon Maillet wins the Oberhof pursuit and takes the yellow bib

The boss is him. The specialty’s leader’s jersey on the back, the French biathlete Quentin Fillon Maillet won, Sunday January 9, the pursuit of Oberhof (Germany), his third victory in three races in the discipline, after those of Hochfilzen (Austria), December 11, and du Grand-Bornand, December 18. He beat the Swede Sebastian Samuelsson and the Norwegian Tarjei Boe.

« Guys play the general and there is also the Olympics [du 4 au 20 février en Chine]. You must not come out tired of this period. We will save them », explained Vincent Vittoz, the coach of the France team, on Friday at the microphone of La Chaîne L’Equipe, to justify the choice to preserve Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon Maillet on the two relay events on Saturday.

Read also Biathlon: Quentin Fillon Maillet, imperial, wins during the pursuit of Grand-Bornand

This choice paid off for the second, very fast on the skis on Sunday despite the conditions made dantesque by the snow and the wind. Starting ninth at 30 seconds from Russian Alexander Loginov, the Frenchman played hidden for most of the race, and even seemed doomed after his two faults on the first prone shot, which relegated him to 18e place, almost a minute and a half from Alexander Loginov.

Jacquelin misses himself

“In my head it was very, very far from being won after the first shot, I did not imagine myself finishing first at that time”, confirmed the Jurassien after the race at La Chaîne L’Equipe. But he was then impeccable on shooting (18/20), gradually made up his mark and escaped after a last very quick shot. He also took advantage of the huge slump of Alexander Loginov, who had almost won the race before missing his last three balls.

Thanks to this victory, Quentin Fillon Maillet also finds himself at the head of the general classification of the World Cup, all specialties combined, which he had already occupied for the time of a race during the last stage, at Le Grand-Bornand. He dislodges another Frenchman, Emilien Jacquelin, disappointing 17e of the pursuit (16/20 in shooting), while he had started in second position.

Read also Biathlon World Cup: Russian Alexander Loginov wins Oberhof sprint, French Emilien Jacquelin still in the lead

The two-time world pursuit champion appeared to have glide issues the entire race, struggling to stay in the skis of other biathletes. He even fell after contacting Tarjei Boe at the end of the third shot.

“From the first hectometers, I felt that the glide was not optimal. I suffered, I could not find my form, confirmed Emilien Jacquelin on arrival. I hung on for four laps but didn’t have the equipment at all to do a top-level race. For my part, it is the frustration that dominates. From the first round, I wasted time on Loginov and it was not responding. I’m still happy to hang on, but I didn’t have the mental resources to hang on on the last shot. “

A boulevard for the yellow bib

Between Emilien Jacquelin and Quentin Fillon Maillet, it’s hard to say who will be the highest in the general classification at the end of the year, but the two French people have taken a serious option on the yellow leader’s bib. Especially since some nations are preparing to make dead ends to prepare for the Beijing Olympics. For example, the entire male delegation from Norway will not travel to Ruhpolding, Germany (January 12-16).

Also read: The French biathlon team sees itself “more unpredictable, with incredible medal potential”

The prospect of winning the final general classification does not however appear to be the preoccupation of the moment for Quentin Fillon Maillet. At least officially: “Having the yellow bib is great, and I will try to keep it until the end of the season. But I’m mostly happy with the way today, that’s what I want to do in the next races. “

Last season, the Jurassien, after the retirement of Martin Fourcade, undisputed leader of the discipline for years, proclaimed loud and clear that he wanted to “Fight to be the best biathlete in the world”. But he had achieved a very average winter, until the Worlds, in February in Pokljuka (Slovenia), where he had won a bronze medal in the mass-start event.

This year, he said it less loudly, but his ambition remains unchanged. “By being third in the world three times, it would be a lie to say that I do not want to be number one. I could say that I am aiming for second place to do better, but it would be a shame to be satisfied only with that place ”, he explained to The Republican East, before the resumption, at the end of October.