Martin Fourcade anchored France to victory in a closely contested men's biathlon World Cup relay on Thursday in Ruhpolding, Germany.

Fourcade shot cleanly and skied superbly in difficult conditions to complete the 4x7.5-kilometre race in 1 hour, 13 minutes, 11.2 seconds — 9.4 seconds ahead of Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen.

Svendsen's hopes of a podium finish appeared to be dashed at the final shoot when he had to reload three times, but he somehow recovered to overtake Austria's Christoph Sumann and Germany's Erik Lesser, who finished third and fourth, respectively.

Lesser ran out of steam and finished 21 seconds behind Fourcade after both men had been neck and neck leaving the final shoot.

Germany led after the first leg, Norway after the second and Austria after the third, before Fourcade seized control.

Canada's men's squad of Calgarians Scott Gow and Nathan Smith, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec, of Shannon, Que., and Regina's Scott Perras finished 15th in 1:17:37.

Norway won the women's 4 x 6-km relay with a time of 1:08:13.2. Russia skied to the silver at 1:09:07.9, while the Czech Republic was third with a time of 1:10:05.0.

Canada's team of Rosanna Crawford, of Canmore, Alta., Zina Kocher of Red Deer, Alta., Quebec City's Audrey Vaillancourt and Megan Heinicke, of Prince George, B.C., were 14th in 1:12:59.4.

With files from The Canadian Press