Doha - Norway's Alexander Kristoff edged British ace Mark Cavendish in a bunch sprint to clinch Tuesday's second stage of the Tour of Qatar.
Dimension Data rider Cavendish nonetheless maintained his overall race lead by 5sec from Katusha's Kristoff with Italian Sacha Modolo third at 14sec.
"It was close and Cavendish is very strong, so I'm happy with this victory," said the Norwegian, for whom the shallow climb to the finish was ideal despite seeing two of his lead-out train, Andrea Guardini and Soren Kragh Andersen, crash on the home straight.
For the second day, the 135km stage was around the campus of the University of Qatar taking in the 15.3km circuit of the artificial island The Pearl, on a course prepared for the world road race championships in October.
Kristoff had managed to sneak into a breakaway group that stretched to a 1min 20sec lead running into a headwind before Cavendish galvanised the peloton to reel in the group of twenty riders.
There was a second attempted breakaway by Belgium's Preben Van Hecke and the Latvian Gatis Smukulis, who were also reeled in.
Wednesday's third stage of five will be a 11.4km individual time-trial on the Lusail motor-racing circuit, north of Doha.