By Philip O'Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Martin Fourcade of France stormed to victory in the men's Olympic 12.5km biathlon pursuit on Monday, surging clear after the third shoot to repeat his success in Sochi four years ago and claim his third Olympic gold medal.
Swedish prodigy Sebastian Samuelsson battled past Benedikt Doll to claim the silver with the German having to settle for bronze.
Starting eighth following a disappointing performance in Sunday's sprint, Fourcade faltered slightly in the early going. He missed one of his first five shots as he struggled to find his range.
By the second shoot he was back to his best and engaged in a battle for the lead with Arnd Peiffer, who won the sprint gold medal 24 hours earlier.
Fourcade took the lead after the third shoot, hitting all five shots before streaking away, leaving Peiffer behind to ski a penalty lap following a costly miss that put him out of the medals race.
The Frenchman never looked back, hitting his last five shots and pumping his fist before taking off on the final lap and cruising across the line waving a French flag in a time of 32.51 minutes.
Samuelsson and Doll fought it out for the silver medal and the 20-year-old Swede powered past the German as they approached the ski stadium for the final time before holding on for second place, 12 seconds behind the winner.
It was Fourcade's night, however, and the French fans who had braved the freezing temperatures burst into an impromptu rendition of "The Marseillaise" to celebrate his victory.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)