Ustiugov on top in cross-country Tour de Ski opener
Sergey Ustiugov secured his first World Cup title of the season with sprint success at the Tour de Ski in Lenzerheide.
The Russian crossed the line in a time of 2:57.28 seconds to beat Federico Pellegrino to the win, with the Italian finishing exactly a second behind.
Bronze went to Frenchman Lucas Chanavat for his first ever World Cup podium, 2.76 seconds back from Ustiugov's winning time. Great Britain's Andrew Young came in 10th place, surprisingly beating team-mate Andrew Musgrave in his heat.
Ustiugov forced a high pace right from the off, with Pellegrino and Chanavat the only competitors who attempted to keep up.
But the 25-year-old wasn't to let the win slip from his grasp, moving up another gear on the final straight to hand little chance to his chasers.
Victory was Ustiugov's 13th on the World Cup stage across all disciplines - the most for a Russian male athlete with Alexander Legkov on 12.
Ustiugov won the first stage of last season's Tour de Ski and in winning on Swiss snow almost 12 months later, becomes only the second skier to win the opening stage in back-to-back editions after Petter Northug in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
"I really wanted to win to start the Tour strong," said Ustiugov.
Chanavat added: "I feel great to win my first podium. In the end I was lacking the speed on the home stretch but I am very happy."