With the start delayed because of freezing temperatures – dipping below the -20 degrees cut off point – the athletes were made to wait to get going.
However if the French team were put off by the delay that didn’t show it as they produced a solid display to top the podium in the 2x6, 2x7.5 km race, clocking 1:26:22.9 hours.
That was enough to hold off the attentions of Ukraine who leapt up the standings from their seventh-place finish last time out to claim silver, just a second behind.
While the top two was a close affair the battle for bronze was anything but with Slovakia taking the final medal on offer, 43 seconds adrift of the top two and over 20 seconds clear of former overall leaders Russia in fourth.
Russia’s poor day at the office saw them drop down to second in the standings, on 103 points with France topping the pile on 108 and Ukraine third with 88.