Italy's Federico Pellegrino maintained his recent hot run of form by claiming cross-country sprint victory in the first event of the 2021 Tour de Ski in Val Mustair.

The 30-year-old Olympic silver medallist arrived in Switzerland having already bagged 2020–21 FIS Cross-Country World Cup gold medals in Davos and Dresden, and saw in the New Year with his third successive sprint triumph in the series.

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Having signalled his intent for glory with strong showings en route to the final, Pellegrino stormed to the top spot in a time of 3:08.44, ahead of overall World Cup leader Alexander Bolshunov of Russia in second, and France's Richard Jouve in third.

Pellegrino said: "After Davos and Dresden I put myself under a lot of pressure because I wanted to continue to win and I knew I had a good opportunity to go again here.

"The track was tough and the race was hard, but I worked a lot on tactics for the final and I think the victory proves it paid off.

"Now I have to recover as well as I can and try to keep this winning momentum going."

Britain's James Clugnet and Andrew Musgrave finished 16th and 21st respectively after failing to progress beyond the quarter-final stage.

While Pellegrino will look to strengthen his grip on the sprint leader's red bib later this month, attention will now turn to the second Tour de Ski event, the 15km mass start at the same venue on Saturday.

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