OBERSTDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Norway's Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo produced a late burst in the final climb to break the resistance of the Russian Federation's Alexander Bolshunov and power his team to victory in the 4x10km relay at the FIS Ski World Championships on Friday, with France third.
The heavy snowfall had caused havoc for the ski-waxing teams responsible for getting grip on the uphill sections and glide on the rest, but Alexey Chervotkin burst away form the pack early to give the Russian Federation team a huge lead of 44.7 seconds after the first leg.
However, Ivan Yakimushkin was quickly reeled in after the first exchange as Norway's Emil Iversen and Finland's Iivo Niskanen took over and broke away as the Norwegians held a slim lead over Finland at the halfway point in tough conditions.
Hans Christer Holund opened a much bigger gap for Norway over the latter part of his leg, handing a 25.5-second lead to Klaebo as France, Sweden, Russia, Finland and Switzerland battled it out behind him.
But again the leader was reeled in as Bolshunov powered out of that trailing pack to take up the chase, eventually catching Klaebo at around the 33km mark, and the lead then exchanged hands several times to set up a frenetic finish.
Having conserved his energy, Klaebo suddenly accelerated halfway up the final climb, and Bolshunov had no answer to the young Norwegian's powerful surge as he blazed his way to the gold medal by a margin of 12 seconds.
In their wake, Jules Lapierre broke away over the last two kms, flying up the last climb to open a gap that was enough to secure the bronze medal for France, 3.9 seconds ahead of fourth-placed Sweden.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Ken Ferris)