Fourcade has been suffering from Gastroenteritis and although he tried to start he was unable to do and had to take the DNS.
That opened up the possibility for 24-year-old Thingnes Boe to move up into the lead of the overall standings in the World Cup with his rival out of the picture but with the gap to Fourcade at 54 points going into the event he had to finish in the top two.
He went into the lead after his first shooting run but he let himself down in the second as he missed twice.
He skied hard to try and get back to the leaders Anton Shipulin and Andrejs Rastorgujevs but he was unable to make up the time and had to settle for fourth.
That is enough to give him the lead in the sprint standings and he does close the gap on Fourcade in the overall rankings to 11 points but he will feel this was a huge opportunity missed.
Fourcade is expected to return to action on Sunday in the mass start whilst there is also the relay on Saturday which he could participate in if his condition allows.
For race winner Shipulin, only the second man to win an event this season who wasn’t Thingnes Boe or Fourcade along with Johannes’ older brother Tarjei, the worry was 44-year-old Ole Einar Bjørndalen who was one of the last to finish and produced some of the best shooting of the day.
‘The King of the Biathlon’ pushed hard, with a point to prove after being left out of the Olympic squad, but he couldn’t catch the leaders and finished in 12th and Shipulin took his victory with Quentin Fillon Maillet joining him and Rastorgujevs on the podium.
Nevertheless Bjørndalen will feel he has shown the selectors that they made a big mistake in not selecting him and he had the support of the crowd given how fans feel he was treated harshly.
It is Shipulin's 11th World Cup victory and he moves up to third in the overall standings.