The Russian men's biathlon team for the third time in a row took fourth place in the relay at the World Cup.
The main character in the team was Eduard Latypov - he again brilliantly spent the last stage and brought the national team "wooden medals", which seemed unattainable during the race in Oberhof.
According to the results of the men's sprint race, the Russians had the right to hope for real awards.
Even if the best result then was the tenth place of Matvey Eliseev, on the whole he and his compatriots performed quite smoothly.
Only the national teams of Russia, Norway and France could boast that all their participants in the relay on Wednesday were in the top 30.
At the same time, the Norwegians gave their opponents a head start and did not include Sturla Legrade, the vice-leader of the World Cup and the silver medalist of the sprint, in the composition.
Another surprise before the relay came from Russian coaches.
The first stage was given to Kirill Streltsov, who had never represented the country in relay races at the World Cup.
Usually the starter in the team is Matvey Eliseev, but, as Yuri Kaminsky explained on Match TV, the athlete himself wanted to try himself at other stages and became Streltsov's replacement.
But the debut of the 24-year-old biathlete was unsuccessful.
Before the first shooting, he was still in the general group, but made two mistakes while lying down.
Streltsov tried to close the remaining targets for a long time and lost too much time on this, rolling back to 19th place.
In the course of the second lap, the backlog of the Russian increased - the Norwegian Vetle Shostad Christiansen began to work powerfully at a distance and drag his pursuers along with him.
The stand only aggravated Streltsov's position.
He was delayed again at the shooting range due to another miss.
The Russian returned to the 22nd track, ahead of only the representatives of Latvia and Japan.
Even before the transfer of the relay, Streltsov began to lose more than a minute to the race leader Eric Lesser from Germany.
Matvey Eliseev had to repeat his shooting feat of the sprint and close all the targets at once in order to return to the fight for high places.
Eliseev did not rush in pursuit of his closest rivals and approached the firing line at a fairly calm pace.
But this did not help him - the first two bullets flew past.
The Russian nevertheless rose to 17th place and even ended up three seconds behind Johannes Dale, who earned a penalty loop.
Pursuing the Norwegian, Eliseev won back two positions for the second shooting and kept the gap with the solely leading Italian Lucas Hofer.
At the next firing range, Eliseev again used two additional rounds, losing about 20 seconds.
After that, the last circle began, which is traditionally extremely difficult for a Russian.
From 12th place, where Eliseev was not long after standing, he again fell to 15th.
By the end of the stage, the gap from the Italians exceeded two minutes.
Alexander Loginov, who ran the third stage, became the first in the Russian team who nevertheless passed at least one milestone without mistakes.
Due to pure lying, he returned the national team to the top ten, but the gap from the top three, which was formed by Italy, France and Germany, still remained colossal.
Despite the hopelessness of his position, Loginov continued to fight for every position both on the track and on the shooting range.
It was all the more offensive that the Russian made a misfire with his last shot.
At the end of his stage, Loginov was ahead of several teams.
He gave Eduard Latypov the opportunity to fight for getting into the top six with the Ukrainian national team, which had only one mistake in the first three stages.
Latypov immediately accelerated and before the first shooting not only passed Artyom Prima, but also caught up with the Swiss Yosha Burkhalter.
And after lying down, the Russian found himself 24 seconds away from the German Philip Horn, who fell into fourth place due to three penalty loops.
In the first three, where the French Emilien Jacquelin and the Italian Dominique Windisch remained, the host of the competition was replaced by the Norwegian Johannes Boe.
On the second lap Latypov continued to rush at full speed - in terms of sheer speed he was second, losing to Be only 3.4 seconds.
The Russian supported his excellent move with absolutely accurate standing shooting, while Horn was delayed at the turn due to two more misses.
The Russian national team, hopelessly inferior to the entire first half of the relay, had a chance to finish fourth.
On the last lap, Horn hung behind Latypov's back, hoping to hold out to the finish line and counterattack, but the Russian was stronger.
He finished fourth - after 22nd place during the first stage, it was an undoubted success for the team.
The French team won.
Beau Jr. tried to win back the 23-second gap from Jacquelin, but still led his team to silver.
Bronze medals went to the Italians.
More relay joy for @FedFranceSki in # OBE21!
After the Single Mixed Relay on Sunday, they also take the men's relay today 🥳
🥉🇮🇹 @Fisiofficialhttps: //t.co/bk5aBBso9Qpic.twitter.com/MmPLv0e4Cc
- IBU World Cup (@IBU_WC) January 15, 2021