Strobl's breakthrough: Skiing

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The unheralded Fritz Strobl led an Austrian rout when they took the top four places in the opening downhill of the World Cup season in Val d'Isere, France, yesterday.

Strobl, who had made little impact in the World Cup previously and started at No 43, pushed his better-known team-mates Werner Franz, Patrick Ortlieb and Josef Strobl out of the spotlight in securing his first victory on the circuit in 1min 51.61sec.

Luc Alphand, victorious last year here and the downhill World Cup winner, had to settle for sixth this time behind Italy's Kristian Ghedina in cold, dry and sunny conditions ideal to finally launch a downhill season which had been hampered by bad weather until Sunday.

Josef Strobl, who is not related to the winner, had looked set for victory on the same piste on Saturday when he had set the fastest time before fog forced organisers to call off the race. The times of the 17 skiers who had gone down were scrapped and the race was restarted yesterday.