Thekla Brun-Lie and Lars Helge Birkeland won the first race of the new IBU World Cup season today, in the single mixed relay ©IBU

Norway claimed the first win of the new International Biathlon Union World Cup season today as their pair of Thekla Brun-Lie and Lars Helge Birkeland won the single mixed relay in Pokljuka.

Completing two circuits each, Brun-Lie and Olympic silver medallist Birkeland finished in 38min, 26.7sec, eight-and-a-half seconds in front of their nearest rivals.

Taking second place were the Austrians Lisa Hauser and Simon Eder, with Hauser claiming her sixth mixed relay World Cup podium.

Behind them were Ukraine's world silver medallist Anastasiya Merkushyna and Arten Tyshchenko, who managed the best shooting of the competition, using just one spare round.

On the final leg Austria's Eder attacked on the tracks but was uncharacteristically slow in the shooting to leave himself seven seconds back.

The Norwegians enjoyed a fast and clean stage in contrast, which was enough to seal them the victory.

"When I took over in first position, I felt I would have to deliver," Birkeland said afterwards.

"I came in with Simon [Eder] on the last standing which was quite a challenge.

"I know he is really fast and I had to perform my best to beat him."

In the 2x6 and 2x7.5 mixed relay which followed shortly after, it was France that claimed victory.

Initially it was the Olympic bronze medallists Italy who took control, with Lisa Vittozzi on the first leg leaving the range with a four second lead over France's Anais Bescond and Finland's Marl Eder.

By the first change, however, it was Eder who tagged first, followed by Bescond.

On the second leg Finland extended their lead to 19 seconds, but on the third and fourth legs France were too strong.

By the time Simon Desthieux was tagged, he had the lead as five-time Olympic champion Martin Fourcade also shone.

Desthieux eventually crossed the line to seal the victory for his country in a time of 1:10.28 with Switzerland finishing in second, 38.7 behind.

Italy, having briefly lead on the first leg, claimed third, finishing almost a minute behind the French.