In-form Fourcade warns he's no Michael Phelps

Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:15pm EST
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By Julien Pretot

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Four years after showing glimpses of his huge potential at the Vancouver Games, Martin Fourcade is in full swing as the Frenchman targets a golden haul at the Sochi Olympics - but he is no Michael Phelps.

The biathlon overall World Cup leader, who won silver in the mass start in 2010 at the age of 21, will enter all the individual races - individual, mass start, sprint, pursuit - as a favorite, having dominated the circuit for the last two years and claiming all World Cup titles last season.

"We've been talking about Sochi for four years, I really want to race now," Fourcade told a news conference on Thursday, two days before the opening race, the 7.5-km sprint.

"It's going be two long days of waiting. I could not have arrived here better prepared. It's not a guarantee of a good result but it's definitely important."

The pressure is high on Fourcade, who at home has been identified as one of the top potential medal providers.

Asked if he could be the Michael Phelps of the Games, he replied: "It's a bit too cold for me to wander on the snow in my underwear."

Former French great Raphael Poiree, now a pundit for Norwegian TV, believes Fourcade has an advantage over his rivals, among whom is Norway's Emil Hegle Svendsen.

"The race is in altitude and he excels in these conditions, much more than anyone else," Poiree told reporters.   Continued...

Martin Fourcade of France takes part in a biathlon training session for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games at the "Laura" cross-country and biathlon centre in Rosa Khutor February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth