The 28-year-old lost his main pilot in a hectic run to the line in Naseem Park but recovered in time to easily claim a bunch sprint from Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Roy Jans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) at the end of the third stage.
“At about six kilometres to go I lost usually last man, Jacopo (Guarnieri), he punctured and then we had one guy less for the lead-out,” Kristoff said. “Lucky we train a lot together so we can mix it up. Marco Haller did a really good lead-out, he did the work for two.
“It worked out fine but we had to play it a little bit cool. I was happy when I saw we hit the front with 500m to go, I knew it was going to be hard to pass me.”
Katusha have been impressive in fast finishes across the Tours of Qatar and Oman proving to be both unsurpassable in some and, like Thursday, resourceful in others.
It was a good day for Norway with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) retaining the race lead ahead of the queen stage to Green Mountain on Friday.
Boasson Hagen, like Kristoff, has enjoyed a victorious campaign in the Middle East and despite getting lost in the final kilometre of the race from Al Sawadi Beach was happy with his showing.
“My main goal was to keep the jersey and I managed to do that,” he said. “For Green Mountain it’s a different day and terrain. I don’t expect to keep the jersey but I’ll try to fight.”
The sunny start of the 176.5km race was a contrast to last year where sandstorms battered the coastal strip.
Rain lashed down on the peloton throughout the stage but it was windy conditions at the finish that had the most impact. Irish sprinter Sam Bennett has been a name to watch, consistently figuring in fast finishes here and in Qatar but was not in the mix at the end of stage three.
“A cross tailwind it’s never good for a bunch sprint, it makes for a good spectacle, but thankfully there were no crashes,” his Bora-Argon 18 pilot Shane Archbold said.
“The last two kilometres were technical, the roads were too narrow so it made it really hard. Unfortunately we didn’t have the legs to do anything but I guess that’s bike racing.”
Aside from the final, the race was otherwise fairly straightforward. A five-man break including Australian Jordan Kerby (Drapac), Ivar Slik and Brian Van Goethem (Roompot Oranje Peloton), Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Kenneth Van Rooy (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) escaped early and stayed away until Dimension Data and Katusha upped the tempo and ensured the race was altogether with 20km remaining.
The tour continues tomorrow with the 180km fourth stage from Muscat to Green Mountain, a happy hunting ground for the climbers.
— Sophie Smith (@SophieSmith86) February 18, 2016