Eurosport - Sat, 06 Mar 14:41:00 2010
France's Maurice Manificat struck his first career cross country World Cup gold in the 30km double pursuit race in Lahti, Finland.
The 23-year old, who impressed to finish sixth in the 15km freestyle race at his debut Winter Olympics in Vancouver last month, crossed the line in one hour 11 minutes 44.2 seconds.
The Frenchman and Czech Republic's Lukas Bauer stretched clear of the leading group in the freestyle stage before a surprise attack from Manificat with less than a kilometre remaining sealed the win.
Bauer, who captured two bronze medals in Vancouver, tried to haul the Frenchman in as they approached the final sprint but the youngster sensed the victory was within reach and powered home 3.6 seconds clear.
And having scored his first individual podium finish in December's 15km race in Davos, Manificat admitted he felt he could claim a medal again on Saturday.
"I knew I was in very good shape after the Winter Olympics," said Manificat.
"All the French skiing team are in good shape at the moment and to my first victory after my first podium is surprising but a great feeling.
"I wasn't afraid of Lukas when we broke clear. He's in good form but I'm a racer like him.
"I believed throughout the race that I could win so I was never worried."
Russia's Ilia Chernousov hung on to bronze after a sprint finish with teammate Maxim Vylegzhanin, crossing the line 46.2 seconds after Manificat.
With seven races remaining, Bauer closed the gap in the World Cup rankings on absent leader Petter Northug with his second place.
The Norwegian leads on 1060 with Bauer second on 888 and Switzerland's Dario Cologna, also absent from Finland, third on 735.