OSTERSUND, Sweden (AP) -- Defending overall champion Martin Fourcade of France won the first individual race of the biathlon World Cup season, taking a 20-kilometer event Wednesday ahead of Dominik Landertinger of Austria.

Fourcade and Landertinger had their only miss at the second of four shooting stations, but the Frenchman used his stronger skiing to finish in 50 minutes, 44.7 seconds, beating the Austrian by 12.3 seconds.

Erik Lesser of Germany was one of only three skiers to shoot cleanly and finished third, 21.7 seconds back. All-time great Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway skipped the event because of a cold.

The women's 15-kilometer individual race will be held Thursday.

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