Quentin Fillon Maillet, front left, clinch the Biathlon World Cup by finishing second in Otepää in Estonia ©Getty Images

Quentin Fillon Maillet suffered a rare defeat in the mass start at the Biathlon World Cup in Otepää in Estonia, but still made history as the fourth Frenchman to clinch the overall title. 

Fillon Maillet, who had already won the Crystal Globe last weekend in Kontiolahtiin the pursuit discipline following his sixth consecutive victory, only needed to finish in the top 23 of today's race to lift the main title.

Norway's Olympic bronze medallist Vetle Sjåstad Christiansen kept a perfect shooting record over the 15 kilometres course in perfect conditions to cross the line in 34min 29.6sec, winning by 5.9 seconds in front of Fillon Maillet in a race again missing Russian and Belarus competitors.

Fillon Maillet only missed out on a fourth consecutive mass start victory since the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing where he won five medals, including two golds.

"Yesterday someone told me you must just finish the mass start or finish under the top 20 [to win the overall title]," Fillon Maillet said. 

"My goal was not to finish in the top 20. 

"It was to win, for sure. 

"I was confident about the overall but I wanted to fight for the overall in the mass start. 

"I was happy to fight for the win today."

Fillon Maillet follows a distinguished French roll honour 

Patrice Bailly-Salins was the first French biathlete to lift the over all title in 1994.

He was Raphaël Poirée, winner of the overall title for three consecutive seasons between 1999 and 2002 and again in 2004.

There was then another period of French dominance when Martin Fourcade was crowned champion seven years in row between 2011 and 2018. 

Norway's Johannes Thingnes Bø, the Olympic champion and winner of the Crystal Globe for the last three seasons, was missing after he decided to call an early finish to his campaign. 

In his absence, Norwegian team-mate Sivert Guttorm Bakken made the individual podium for the first time in his World Cup career.

Olympic silver medallist Martin Ponsiluoma of Sweden had a day to forget with seven missed shots, finishing 26th and nearly three minutes off behind Christiansen.

Elvira Öberg gave Sweden the win in the women's 12.5km mass start race, winning in 34:41.6, and kept herself in the hunt for the overall title. 

She was the quickest from a tight group of eight, crucially missing just one target.

Denise Herrmann of Germany edged out overall World Cup leader Marte Olsbu Røiseland for the silver medal, finishing just four seconds behind the Swede and 0.3sec in front of the Norwegian in the sprint.

Öberg's victory puts her onto 665 points, 96 behind leader Røiseland with one World Cup remaining as she seeks to become the first Swedish biathlete to win the overall Crystal Globe since Helena Jonsson in 2009. 

The event in Otepää is due to conclude tomorrow with the men and women's relays, followed by a mixed relay.

The season is then due to conclude in Oslo at an event scheduled to start on Thursday (March 17).