Austria took the honours in the men’s 4x7.5km relay event in Ruhpolding (GER) on Thursday, January 9 – holding off the challenge of Germany by the tightest of margins in a fast, high-quality day’s racing.
The Vancouver 2010 silver medalists came home in 1.15:40.9, just 0.1 seconds ahead of their rivals, as Dominik Landertinger pulled away at the end of the final kilometre to edge ahead of Simon Schempp, with whom he had contested a thrilling final-stage battle.
Remarkably, it was Austria’s first relay win in four years and their first ever in Ruhpolding. Their previous victory in this event came on home snow in in Hochfilzen in December 2009. Veteran Christoph Sumann, who led the Austrians out on both occasions, stressed the importance of the win for his team’s Sochi 2014 challenge: “Winning 30 days before the Olympics makes us one of the favourites,” he said
Austria now sit second in the overall World Cup relay standings, just five points behind leaders Russia.
The previous day saw success for Russia in the women’s 4x6km event, as the Olympic champions secured their first relay victory of the season. In excellent conditions and inspired by captain Olga Vilukhina, they finished in 1:09:42.2, a full 6.2 seconds ahead of Germany, with Norway third. “I really concentrated on my race and gave all of my effort on that last lap,” said a delighted Vilukhina.
The win pulled Russia up to third in the overall World Cup table, behind Germany and Ukraine.
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