Muscat - Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet won stage three of the Tour of Oman on Thursday, edging out Portugal's Rui Costa and Kazakhstan's Alexey Lutsenko in the final sprint.
The stage was tailor made for the likes of Belgian Avermaet and riders who excel in the one-day classics.
The BMC team leader completed the mountainous 179.5km stretch, involving three climbs from the western outskirts of Muscat to the Wadi Dayqah Dam, in just over four and a half hours.
Van Avermaet secured top spot in the overall standings by 11 seconds from Lutsenko with overnight leader Nathan Haas dropping to third.
The fourth stage on Friday is a rigorous 117.5 km (73 mile) with three climbs.
Stage three results:
1. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 4hr 36min 4sec, 2. Rui Costa (POR/Emirates) at 3sec, 3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/Astana) same time, 4. Gorka Insausti (ESP/Bahrain-Merida) s.t., 5. Nathan Haas (AUS/Katusha) 7, 6. Magnus Nielsen (DEN/Astana) s.t., 7. Odd Eiking (NOR/Wanty) 9, 8. Dries Devenyns (BEL/Quick-Step) s.t., 9. Miguel Moreno (COL/Astana) s.t., 10. Jesus Herrada (ESP/Cofidis) s.t.
1. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 12hr 56min 44sec, 2. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ/Astana) at 11sec, 3. Nathan Haas (AUS/Katusha) 13, 4. Gorka Insausti (ESP/Bahrain-Merida) 19, 5. Dries Devenyns (BEL/Quick-Step) 25, 6. Odd Eiking (NOR/Wanty) at s.t., 7. Miguel Moreno (COL/Astana) at s.t., 8. Jesus Lopez (ESP/Cofidis) at s.t., 9. Daniel Garcia (ESP/Cofidis) at s.t., 10. Merhawi Ghebremedhin (ERI/Dimension Data) at 33sec.