Norwegian sprinter Alexander Kristoff continues winning form in Tour of Oman; Fabian Cancellara retains overall lead. Photos by Graham Watson

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Norwegian sprint powerhouse Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took his fourth victory of the season on Thursday, winning stage three of the Tour of Oman.

Kristoff edged the win in Al Mussanah Sports City ahead of stage one winner and former race leader Andrea Guardini (Astana), with Matteo Pelucchi (IAM Cycling) in third. British rider Adam Blythe (Orica-GreenEdge) placed 10th.

Milan-San Remo 2014 champion and double Tour de France stage winner Kristoff has already notched up three stage wins in the Tour of Qatar this year, as well as that race’s points classification.

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) retained the overall race lead after his stage two win.

The stage’s escape group consisted of the previous day’s most combative rider Jef Van Meirhaeghe, his Topsport-Vlaanderen team-mate Preben van Hecke and Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani CSF).

After only 20 kilometres, the trio had worked up a gap of around seven minutes over the peloton but were then steadily pegged back by the bunch until the catch was made with 16 kilometres to go.

Although the terrain was less lumpy than the previous day, the riders had to contend with blistering heat – with temperatures around 38 degrees. And a mass crash saw Matteo Trentin (Etixx-QuickStep) forced to abandon the race with his injuries. Trentin’s team-mate and Tour of Qatar winner Niki Terpstra was one of those held up by the incident.

The peloton observed a minute’s silence before the start of the stage in honour of 1984 world champion Claude Criqielion, who died on Wednesday morning.

Results
Tour of Oman 2015, stage three: Al Mussanah Sports City to Al Mussanah Sports City, 159km
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha in 3-56-42
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling
4. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
6. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7. Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
8. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Giant-Alpecin
9. Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx-QuickStep
10. Adam Blythe (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge all same time

Overall classification after stage three
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 4 secs
3. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 5 secs
4. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 6 secs
5. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo at 10 secs
6. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing at 10 secs
7. Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing at 10 secs
8. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 10 secs
9. Rafael Valls (Spa) Lampre-Merida at 10 secs
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 10 secs

Alexander Kristoff wins stage three of the 2015 Tour of Oman

Alexander Kristoff took his fourth win of 2015