Lukas Hofer of Italy secured his first Biathlon World Cup victory in seven years ©Getty Images

Italy's Lukas Hofer earned his first Biathlon World Cup victory for more than seven years as Sturla Holm Lægreid of Norway reduced the deficit to compatriot Johannes Thingnes Bø in the race for the overall title in Östersund.

Hofer won the men's 10 kilometres sprint in a time of 22min 27.1sec to claim just the second World Cup gold of his career.

The double Olympic relay bronze medallist completed the course 2.5sec clear of Sweden's Sebastian Samuelsson, while Norwegian Tarjei Bø was third.

Neither Lægreid nor Johannes Thingnes Bø, the only two athletes in contention for the overall crystal globe, finished in the top four.

Lægreid was the highest placed of the two in sixth ahead of Bø in seventh, which saw him cut the gap to his team mate from 25 points to 10 with two events remaining.

Tiril Eckhoff claimed her third straight victory by winning the women's sprint ©Getty Images
Tiril Eckhoff claimed her third straight victory by winning the women's sprint ©Getty Images

Bø, aiming for a third straight overall title, will be hoping for an improved performance in the pursuit tomorrow.

The Olympic 20 kilometres individual champion and multiple world gold medallist leads Frenchman Emilien Jacquelin by nine points in the battle for the overall pursuit title.

Norway's Tiril Eckhoff, who has already wrapped up the overall crystal globe, clinched her fifth consecutive win with victory in the women's 7.5km sprint.

Eckhoff was again in superb form, crossing the line in 18:44.6 to beat Italy's Dorothea Wierer by 2.5.

Ingrid Landmark Tandrevold, also from Norway, came through to take bronze, 6.7 adrift of her victorious compatriot.

The women's pursuit, held over 10km, is also due to be staged tomorrow.