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Bjorndalen, Wilhelm Win Biathlon Races

February 9, 2003 GMT

LAHTI, Finland (AP) _ Ole Einar Bjorndalen of Norway and Kati Wilhelm of Germany won World Cup biathlon races Sunday in mass starts.

Bjorndalen, the World Cup leader, captured a 15-kilometer race. Oleg Ryzhenkov of Belarus was second and Halvard Hanevold of Norway was third. This was Bjorndalen’s eighth victory in 14 starts this season.

Wilhelm led a 1-2 finish for Germany in a 12.5-kilometer event. She was 19 seconds ahead of Martina Glagow and 22.4 ahead of World Cup leader Ekaterina Dafovska of Bulgaria.

Bjorndalen won in 40 minutes, 42.9 seconds, two seconds ahead of Ryzhenkov. Bjorndalen increased his lead in the World Cup by 22 points. He is 28 points ahead of Raphael Poiree of France, the World Cup winner the last two years.

Bjorndalen, a multiple Olympic winner, has 524 points. Poiree, who was ninth Sunday, has 496, with Russia’s Sergei Tchepikov way back in third at 413 points after finishing 15th.

Bjorndalen did not have an easy time. He took a good lead but missed two targets at the second prone shooting dropping to 14th. He regained composure, shot well at the third station and went out second after Ryshenkov. A further miss at the last station and a penalty round left the Norwegian third, 10.3 seconds after the leader.

Wilhelm, third in the sprint Saturday, started with two misses in the first prone shooting but skied and shot well after that. Corinne Niogret of France managed only fourth despite hitting all targets.

Dafovska has a commanding lead in the World Cup with 521 points ahead of France’s Sylvie Becaert (463) and Glagow (423). Wilhelm moved up to sixth.