Updated: Sunday, 23 February 2014 03:42 | By Agence France-Presse

Russia lead by whisker in four-man bobsleigh

The four-man Olympic bobsleigh competition is set for a thrilling finale after the Russian team piloted by Alexander Zubkov led by just 0.04sec at the half-way stage.

Russia lead by whisker in four-man bobsleigh

Russia-1, pilot Alexander Zubkov, pushman Alexey Negodaylo, pushman Dmitry Trunenkov and brakeman Alexey Voevoda compete in the Bobsleigh Four-man Heat 1 at the Sanki Sliding Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 22, 2014 - by Leon Neal

Zubkov, targeting his second gold of the Games after winning the two-man event, clocked a combined time of 1min 50.19sec after two runs, a whisker in front of the Latvia-1 team piloted by Oskars Melbardis.

The pilot of Canada-3, Justin Kripps, made a serious mistake on the 14th curve during his second run and his sled flipped, crossing the finish line on his side. The team were uninjured.

"The Canadian team that flipped spoiled the track with their riders," Zubkov said.

"And the three leading teams all had to battle tough with the time on that uneven surface."

"We managed to resist and keep our lead (while) the others failed and dropped to lower places. Tomorrow we will have to start everything from the very beginning," he added.

On his first run, Zubkov, who won silver in the four-man event at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, set a new track record with a time of 54.82sec.

Melbardis's sled, fifth after the first run, clocked the best time in the second run (55.13sec) to finish 0.12sec ahead of the Germany-1 crew, piloted by this season's World Cup four-man title winner Maximilian Arndt.

"We made too many mistakes in the first run, especially at the start," Melbardisaid. 

"But in the second we performed much better both at the start and on the lower part of the track. 

"Tomorrow those who manage to make fewest mistakes will win. We will do our best to avoid mistakes."

The four-man medal winners will be decided after the third and fourth runs on Sunday. The times of all four runs are added together to determine the winner.

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