First Benedikt Doll shook his head in disbelief, later at the award ceremony the Black Forester was blown away after his surprising success in Antholz. "Yessss," yelled the 31-year-old and lovingly hugged his cross-country skis in the Südtirol Arena. Doll defeated none other than the great Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Bö in the last individual race before the Olympics. Not only did he keep the upper hand against the twelve-time world champion on the cross-country ski run, but also at the shooting range. “Today was definitely an absolute highlight. He makes me very proud," said Doll.

After just one shooting error, Doll was 31.3 seconds ahead of the Norwegian over the 15 kilometers on Saturday, who had three penalties and finally gave up chasing Doll.

For Doll it was the third victory in a World Cup race.

Third was Norway's Sturla Holm Laegreid (3 penalties).

Last week Doll had already finished second in the sprint race at the home World Cup in Ruhpolding.

Doll keeps his nerve

"I'm incredibly happy," said Doll after his first win in over two years on ARD.

Later he was happy about his performance at the shooting range.

He kept his nerve, he said.

He stayed with himself and didn't let himself be distracted.

"And I kind of challenged Johannes with a zero at the back."

At the last standing stage, the big favorite from Norway had come first, but he had to go to the penalty loop. Doll took advantage of this opportunity and, after shooting clean, was the first to go down the track with a seven-second lead. "He tried it again, but I knew I had incredibly good skis today, and I'm doing really well when it comes to skiing," said Doll. The 2017 sprint world champion said: "It's really nice that it worked out with victory and not just with a podium finish." Doll last won the Le Grand-Bornand sprint on December 19, 2019.

Now Doll can approach the last phase before the Olympic Games in Beijing in a good two weeks with more ease.

“The win gave me points for my self-confidence.

I now know that everything is fine and can therefore go into the next few days more relaxed, ”said Doll.

Johannes Kühn came in 19th on his return after the compulsory Corona break. After six penalties, the 30-year-old was 3:21.4 minutes behind his teammate at the top of the podium.

Roman Rees, who also had six penalties, finished the 15-kilometer race in 21st place, 3:33 minutes behind.

"I never felt really bad, but I had a bit of a cough for two days," said Kühn about his experiences with the corona infection.

Everything has been fine since Wednesday last week.

“The race is actually there to get back into the rhythm.

And then to make the best possible use of the next two weeks,” said Kühn, who won the sprint in Hochfilzen in December.