Hirscher sets pace in men's giant slalom

VAL D'ISERE, France (Reuters) - Austrian newcomer Marcel Hirscher moved close to his first World Cup victory by clocking the fastest time in the first leg of a men's giant slalom on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Hirscher, who placed second in a super-combined event in the French Alps resort on Friday, skied down the steep, icy Bellevarde course in one minute 06.39 seconds.

Italian Massimiliano Blardone was dangerously close with the second best time, a slim 0.05 seconds off the pace, with Austrian Romed Baumann still in contention with the third best time, 0.24 seconds back.

Swiss Carlo Janka, who captured the overall World Cup lead with three wins in as many days last week at Beaver Creek, crashed out, which means the 23-year-old has failed to finish the three events he entered here.

American Bode Miller and Swiss Didier Cuche did not start the race due to injuries. Former overall World Cup champion Miller sprained his ankle playing volleyball while super-G world champion Cuche still felt neck and shoulder pain after a crash in training.

(Reporting by Patrick Vignal. Editing by Alastair Himmer)