e Biathlon

Tommaso Giacomel, Lukas Hofer, Didier Bionaz and Elia Zeni (from left) cheer. © APA/afp / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Italy's relay team storms onto the podium in Oberhof

That was extremely strong: Italy's men's relay team led by Lukas Hofer achieved a podium finish at the Biathlon World Cup in Oberhof.

The Azzurri have already shown this in the two seasons so far this season. Now Lukas Hofer & Co. have gone one better in Oberhof: After placing 5th (in Östersund) and 4th (in Hochfilzen), it was enough for third place in the Thuringian Forest! This is also the first podium finish for Italy's biathlon men this World Cup winter. For Lukas Hofer, this is certainly a relief in his comeback season after a long injury break.

In the cauldron of Oberhof, Hofer was Italy's decisive man alongside final runner Tommaso Giacomel. At the halfway point of the race, the Azzurri were only in 7th place, two minutes behind the leaders. Above all, the young starting runner Elia Zeni (6 spares) and Didier Bionaz (4) didn't have their best day, but they kept the damage to a minimum.

Hofer and Giacomel shine

Then came Lukas Hofer. Even though the conditions at the shooting range were getting worse and worse, the man from Puster did his entire routine. With just a single spare, the 34-year-old led Italy to fourth place. The gap to third-placed Sweden was 4 seconds when the handover to Giacomel took place. After prone the gap remained the same because both Sebastian Samuelsson and Giacomel needed three spares.

Final runner Tommaso Giacomel kept his perspective in the Oberhof fog. © APA/afp / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

It didn't seem to be enough for a podium finish again. But then came the final standing stage: Samuelsson missed 5 times in his first 4 shots. Giacomel now sensed his chance: While the Trentino native only needed two spare rounds, Samuelsson even had to go into the penalty loop. Giacomel then clenched his fist and held on to third place on the final lap. Norway won with a lead of two minutes over Germany.

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