Hagos Gebrhiwet won the Campaccio Cross Country, and IAAF Permit event, in Italy today ©Campaccio

Hagos Gebrhiwet beat compatriot Selemon Barega for the first time at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Cross Country Permit race in San Giorgio su Legnano in Italy.

The 24-year-old Rio 2016 5,000 metres bronze medallist had raced Barega twice on the track before, over 5,000m at last season's IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels and at the World Indoor Championships in Birmingham, but on both of those occasions it was Barega who won.

Today's result was a form of revenge as Gebrhiwet took the win in 29min 18sec, although 18-year-old Barega - the fourth fastest 5,000m runner of all time - was not far behind, finishing in 29:22.

An all-African top three was completed by Uganda's steeplechase specialist Albert Chemutai, who finished just a second behind Barega in 29:23.

Teenager Barega was slow to get off the line at the start having not been ready, and had to put on a short sprint to catch up with the leaders.

Within 40 or 50 metres he had managed it and by the two kilometre mark he had gained the lead.

Gebrhiwet later said he realised his rival was in trouble and so waited for him to catch up.

"We started slow, a calm pace for the first three laps at least," he said.

"I realised that Barega had a problem at the start and it seemed right to wait for him.

Yasmin Can won the women's event in comfortable fashion ©Getty Images
Yasmin Can won the women's event in comfortable fashion ©Getty Images

"But I was afraid of his sprint, so I stretched in the final throughout the last lap to gain an advantage that gave me security.

"And so it was, I built a nice margin that allowed me to win."

Gebrhiwet added that he probably will not do any more cross-country races this winter, switching his focus instead to the indoor season.

"My 2019 goal is to still be among the best in the world on the track," he said.

Barega in contrast said he will continue to race on the grass as he wants to qualify for the World Cross Country Championships in Aarhus in Denmark, which is taking place in March.

In the women's event Turkey's Yasmin Can lived up to her billing as favourite and took the title comfortably in 19:21.

The 22-year-old, who won her third consecutive European Cross Country title in December, finished 16 seconds in front of Ethiopia's Silenat Ysmaw.

Third place went to Kenya’s Caroline Chepkemoi, who finished in 19:46.

Afterwards Can called the route "spectacular".

"I wanted to keep a high pace immediately," she said.

Israel’s Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, who won the European 10,000m title in Berlin last summer, finished fourth.