Chris Froome saw a late attack fall short as Andre Greipel regained the overall lead of the Tour of Oman by sprinting to his second victory of the race on stage three.
Defending champion Froome (Team Sky) surged clear of the field along with three other riders with just under 5km remaining, but was unable to hold off the chasing peloton and eventually crossed the line in Al Bustan in the main bunch in 43rd.
Greipel (Lotto Belisol) capitalised by beating second-placed Peter Sagan (Cannondale) by three bike lengths, with Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) finishing third and Britain's Ben Swift (Team Sky) fourth.
After picking up ten bonus seconds, Greipel, who also won stage one, now moves back to the top of the general classification, eight seconds ahead of second-placed Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge). Froome is 20th, 20 seconds off the lead, while Swift climbs to ninth.
The stage had appeared set to be a tussle between late attackers and sprint teams hoping to keep the pack together, and that proved to be the case.
The day's breakaway was swallowed up just before the final climb, a short and sharp drag up Al Jissah, but it was on the 6.5km descent to the finish line that the stage caught light.
Froome was the first to make a move and although he quickly opened up a gap, Sagan, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) were all able to bridge across to form a front four.
They looked to have the power to stay clear, but Lotto Belisol and the other sprint trains had other ideas and successfully hauled the escapees back with 1km to go.
Sagan remained at the front of the race but, drained by his failed breakaway attempt, he was unable to match Greipel's pace and prevent the in-form German picking up his fifth win of the season.
Greipel said afterwards: "It was a hard final on paper today, but the headwind played in my favour. The last 4km I was riding at the end of the bunch, but [Jurgen] Roelandts and [Lars] Bak brought me back to the front. With 700m to go I was back at the head of the bunch and Ligthart and Roelandts gave me the perfect lead-out."
Stage three result
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, 3:29:08
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, same time
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, st
4 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, st
5 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, st
6 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
7 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana, st
8 Zakkari Dempster (Aus) NetApp-Endura, st
9 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
10 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, st
43 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st
1 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol, 10:44:20
2 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, +8secs
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, +10
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, +14
5 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, +16
6 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, same time
7 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol, +19
8 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare, st
9 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, +20
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
20 Chris Froome (GB) Team Sky, st