e Biathlon

Elia Zeni, Lukas Hofer, Tommaso Giacomel and Didier Bionaz celebrate again. © APA/afp / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Next podium! Italy's relay with a furious finish

These four men are a force: Lukas Hofer, Tommaso Giacomel, Didier Bionaz and Elia Zeni stormed onto the podium on Thursday at the Biathlon World Cup in Ruhpolding with a completely unleashed comeback.

Italy's men's relay team came third in the biathlon classic in Bavaria - just four days later the first podium finish this winter. Already on Sunday, the quartet was third in Oberhof. This meant that the Azzurri finished in the top five in all four relay races this winter.

What's notable: Halfway through the race, Italy was still lagging behind in 12th position. Starting runners Elia Zeni and Didier Bionaz had to reload a total of seven times at the shooting range, meaning they lost valuable time not only on the cross-country ski trail, but also at the shooting range.

Hofer and Giacomel cannot be slowed down

The chances of a top position were already dwindling noticeably halfway through the race - but then came Lukas Hofer. The resurgent veteran from Montal put on a fabulous performance, made up a lot of time right from the start, only missed the target once and left the German Benedikt Doll behind in a thrilling duel. The result? The jump from twelfth to fifth place.

Tommaso Giacomel then completed the furious comeback. The 23-year-old from Trentino made two shooting errors, but still catapulted Italy forward. At the last shooting he even reached for second place, but then he missed the last shot. So he started the final lap at the same time as the Frenchman Quentin Fillon Maillet. But he quickly shook this off with an inimitable start and secured third place.

Norway wins confidently

In the end, only two nations were faster than Italy that afternoon in the deeply isolated Ruhpolding: the victorious and undisputed exceptional talents from Norway, who competed without overall World Cup leader Johannes Thingnes Bø, and the in-form Germans. They offered a great comeback in step with the Azzurri, which ultimately ended in second place for the DSV team.

Vetle Sjastad Christiansen completed Norway's victory as the final runner. © APA/afp / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

The men can now take a breather for a day, because the World Cup program continues with the women's sprint in the Chiemgau Arena on Friday (14.30 p.m.).

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