KHANTY-MANSIYSK, Russia (AP) — Defending champion Martin Fourcade combined perfect shooting and fast skiing Friday to win his ninth biathlon World Cup victory this season in the men's 10-kilometer sprint.
Fourcade won in 24 minutes, 22.6 seconds to mark his third straight victory and his 16th podium finish this season. The Frenchman has already secured his second overall title with two races left. Lukas Hofner of Italy did not miss a target but could not challenge Fourcade's fast skiing and finished 39.6 second behind in second place for his first podium finish this season. Andreas Birnbacher of Germany was 41.0 second behind in third.
"My shape is almost incredible," said Forcade, who led the race from the start. "Even though I did not compete in the relay in Sochi, I knew in training yesterday when I did a short test that my shape was still at the top."
The Frenchman has already won three discipline titles and can grab all the four with victory in the season-closing mass start on Sunday. Russia retained the men's Nations Cup for the second season with 7,749 points from 21 races. Norway finished second with 7,692 points, followed by France with 7,656.
The last stop on the nine-leg World Cup circuit will continue in eastern Siberia on Saturday with pursuit races.